BOLIVAR, Mo. — An early morning fire left a family business of 62 years in pieces.
Roberts Brothers Livestock Auction in Bolivar, Missouri, opened in 1957 and has been a center for selling cattle in and around Polk County for more than 60 years.
Firefighters received a call around 5 a.m. on Monday, July 5 and though firefighters were able to contain the fire it won’t be opening for a while.
“I was three weeks old when the barn opened,” said Debbi Roberts-McGinnis.
Roberts-McGinnis’ son now owns the business.
“My dad when he retired, he passed it onto my brother, and then my brother sold it to my son, and his children have worked here, we’ve had five generations in the last 62 years that passed through this place,” said Roberts-McGinnis.
“I was devastated,” said David Noblitt. “I couldn’t believe it.”
Noblitt is an employee and has been working at Roberts Brothers Livestock Auction for over a decade.
“I loved it, every weekend, you got to see everybody, around here, got to meet up with everybody, talk to everybody and see how their week went,” said Noblitt.
Noblitt says this was more than just a business but it’s a place where people got together in the community.
“We have a cafe in here too, everybody comes in there, socialize, drink coffee, get breakfast, and everything,” said Noblitt.
“The cafe and the actual sale area is completely gone for the most part,” said Lieutenant Blake Long with Central Polk County Fire Protection District.
The entire middle area was destroyed, but thankfully no people or animals were inside at the time.
“If it had to happen, this could not have been the best time,” said Roberts-McGinnis. “We didn’t have any injuries. No one was hurt, and that’s what matters the most.”
Even some important documents were salvageable.
“My dad started this, he went to auction school, and my sister and I both were contemplating the fact that his diploma was hanging in there on the wall, in the cafeteria,” said Roberts-McGinnis. “Ironically, it’s not all burnt.”
Even though the building burned down the memories will stay.
“If my dad was here, he’d want to say thank you for all the people that’s come through these doors,” said Roberts-McGinnis. “He knew that that’s what built the business. You got to have livestock, people, you gotta have people who are willing to come back. Saturday after Saturday, and we’ve had so many people who responded on Facebook, positively about having grown up here, and this was their Saturday activity.”
Officials don’t know what exactly caused the fire but did say it could be an electrical issue in the Auction box. For now, this is an ongoing investigation.