PAEX board discusses barn replacement and fire protection after the fire on May 25


Jason Kerr/Daily Herald Fire damage from the May 25 fire at a Prince Albert Exhibition Association cattle barn.

The board of the Prince Albert Exhibition Association will meet on June 10 to discuss a possible replacement for the cattle barn that burned down on Saturday, but that will not be the only point of discussion.

Board chair and Prince Albert Mayor Greg Dionne said they would also discuss new safety rules to prevent another fire. This is the second year in a row that a barn has caught fire at the showgrounds. In February 2023, a horse stable burned down.

“That's our number one priority – making sure that everyone who comes onto our property feels safe and is safe,” Dionne said in an interview Thursday. “We're going to make some changes and start enforcing those rules to better protect our property.”

Dionne said six security guards were on site during the fire on Saturday, May 25. He said the board will also review its security measures.

Insurance adjusters assessed the damage on Wednesday, and Dionne said the board would wait for their report before making any new regulations or future construction plans.

After reporting a loss of $433,000 in 2020, the Exhibition Association has returned to profitability in recent years. In 2023, the board began planning to repair many of the deteriorating buildings on the site, most notably the Octagon Building.

Dionne said the insurance costs would help build a new barn, but it was still a financial setback.

“It's tough,” Dionne said. “We have so many other repairs because our buildings are old and they (the two barns) served a purpose. Losing them was devastating. When they called me (on Saturday) and said the barn was on fire, I was just devastated…”

“This is the second year in a row that we've lost something and it's devastating, especially at this time of year when we needed it.”

Dionne said the loss of the cattle barn will not impact the upcoming Prince Albert Regional Beef Show and Sale. Show staff have already cleaned out other barns on site and restocked them with new straw and pens.

The biggest challenge will be the Prince Albert Exhibition (PAEX), but Dionne is confident they can reschedule some events to accommodate everyone.

“We expect to survive this year without this barn,” he said.

As for a replacement, Dionne said they will definitely build new, but board members will discuss what that looks like at the June 10 meeting.

“Our intention is to see if we need a barn that big,” he explained. “We're going to do some remodeling, but we don't know if we need a barn that big. We're insured, so that's the good thing about it. It will give us a chance.”

The Prince Albert Fire Department was called to the scene at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 25, after a structure fire was reported on Exhibition Drive.

Firefighters reported heavy smoke coming from the eaves and roof of the barn upon arrival. The first crew entered the barn through the main entrance, but had to abandon their efforts due to collapsing roof trusses.

Instead, the department removed portions of the building's exterior to gain access to and extinguish the fire. The department described the building as having “significant structural damage.”

On Friday, May 24, firefighters also responded to a fire on Exhibition Drive. Crews were called to the scene at 10:30 p.m. after a fire was reported next to a parked trailer.

Firefighters found a small amount of burning debris and extinguished it without damaging the nearby fence.

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