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Overnight fire damages ISU's University Farm in Lexington

Crews at the scene of a fire early Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, at the University Farm in Lexington.
Lexington Fire Department
Crews at the scene of a fire early Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, at the University Farm in Lexington.

A cow barn at Illinois State University's farm in Lexington was damaged in an overnight fire, authorities said.

A McLean County sheriff's deputy spotted the 700-foot-long cow barn on fire at around 12:40 a.m. Friday, according to a Facebook post from the Lexington Fire Department.

The north half the building appears to have been saved by suppression efforts, LFD said. The south half, which also stores straw, will continue to smolder for some time, LFD said.

No injuries were reported, and an ISU spokesperson said no animals were harmed in the fire and no student research would be impacted by the damage. An updated post from LFD said the cows "had access to the outdoors from the interstate side of the building." The University Farm said on Facebook that "local producers and friends ... have graciously taken the majority of our beef herd to their farms, while ISU works on a solution."

The cause of the fire is unknown and under investigation.

"While we are all perplexed by the situation, we are very thankful that there are no reported injuries to humans or cattle," the University Farm said.

Responding to the scene were fire departments from Lexington, Towanda, Chenoa, Gridley, Hudson, El Paso, Colfax, Cooksville and Normal. Other partners include the McLean County sheriff's deputies, Illinois State University Police, Illinois State Police, the Office of the State Fire Marshal, and Corn Belt Energy.

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
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