Juveniles face charges in Fantasy Farm fire.
by The Journal Staff.
- Charges will be filed against juveniles caught during a fire that
broke out Saturday night at the former Fantasy Farm complex adjacent to
Americana Amusement Park.
before 7 p.m. Saturday, fire was discovered tearing through a large
older building at the park that, among other things, once housed a
1940s-era merry-go-round. Later
the blaze spread to a small adjacent log and stone building called the
Three Bears House where, years ago, many
youngsters' birthdays were celebrated when the park was open for
Fire Department Capt. John
Centers, arson investigator, said Monday he was in contact with the
Butler County prosecutor's office, making a determination of juvenile
delinquency charges to be considered in the matter.
will be charges," Centers said, "but right now we just don't
know the extent of the charges and which juveniles will be charged with
Three youngster's ages 10 to 12 were seen leaving the area of the
fire and were later apprehended and questioned.
The park's former owner, William Johnson, who lives near the
entrance to the park grounds, told officers Saturday night that he had
seen a group of boys on the scene trying "to stomp it out, but it
got out of control fast." He called 9-1-1. "We don't think at
this point that they intended to burn the building down," Centers
said, "but were more involved in setting just a nuisance type
fire was ignited by a lighter applied to some bales of straw housed in
the Fantasy Farm building, Centers said.
Damage was estimated between $30,000 to $40,000.
Farm was once developed and operated by the former owner of Americana
Amusement Park (then under the name of LeSourdsville Lake Amusement
Park), the late Edgar Streifthau. The
park, with rides and grounds facilities aimed at very young children and
parents, opened in 1962 and was closed in 1991 under another owner.
property is now owned by Middletown Motor Sports.
Above article printed 3-13-01 in the Middletown
Journal. Thanks go to Debbie Morrison for sending us the article.
tarnish two old Fantasy Farm buildings.
By Laren Pack Journal Staff Writer.
- It was way too hot in the Three Bears House at the old Fantasy Farm
amusement park Saturday night - flames damaged the little building and
claimed its larger neighbor. Shortly before 7 p.m., fire ripped
through a large building that once housed the former park's 1940s-era
merry-go- round, then spread to a small log and stone building beside
it, the Three Bears House. Dark
smoke and flames could be seen from Ohio 4 outside Middletown. Monroe
firefighters, assisted by Liberty Township crews, doused both buildings,
but the larger structure was engulfed when they arrived. As the force of the water gushed from a fire hose, the walls
swayed, creaked and threatened to fall over. Neighbors said juvenile
boys were seen leaving the area on a four-wheeler just as flames started
shooting from the roof. William Johnson, former owner of the
once-thriving LeSourdsville park, who lives at the entrance to the
grounds in the former restaurant, said he also saw the boys. "I saw
them out there trying to stomp it out, but it got out of control fast.
I called 911," Johnson said. Fantasy Farm was the brainchild
of the late Edgar Streifthau, who opened the park in 1962 adjunct
to his LeSourdsville Lake, which was most recently known as Americana
amusement park. The Fantasy
Farm Motel opened in 1965.
Fantasy Farm was an
amusement park that catered to small children and their families.
It had picnic areas, children's rides, animals, wagon tours, an
arcade, farm equipment, concessions and a duck pond.
And yes, it also once featured a Three Bears House. Johnson
bought the park in 1982. It
remained in operation until 1991, when climbing labor and insurance
costs forced its closure. In November 1991, much of the park's
attractions and rides, including the vintage 1940s carousel, were sold
at auction. Johnson said memories were still alive in the buildings that
remained, even though they were mostly empty. "There were a lot of
memories in both of those buildings, not just for me but for thousands
of children who are now adults who came to Fantasy Farm every
summer," Johnson said. "It
just made me sick to watch it burn. "The Three Bears House, also
known as the birthday house, was the sight of children's birthday
parties. "It was the cutest little place, with a fireplace, where
families could come and celebrate birthdays," Johnson said.
'Lots of happy memories there." Five years ago, Johnson
said, he sold the park to Billy Barker and his son, Billy Barker Jr.
According to firefighters, the former merry-go-round building was used
for storage and filled with straw.
Johnson said he did not know what was housed in the building.
Monroe Fire Lt. Richard
Mascarella said the land is now owned by Middletown Motor Sports.
He estimated damage to the merry-go-round building at $30,000.
It was a total loss, he said.
The Three Bears House received far less damage, he said. Police
were questioning a couple of juvenile suspects at 10 p.m. Saturday at
the police station. No
charges had been filed, police said.
The fire is being investigated.
Note: William Johnson
never owned LeSourdsville or Americana but was the last owner (2nd
owner) of Fantasy Farm. The article above is in error.
Webmaster of The Fantasy Farm Memorial.
Above photo: Liberty
Township firefighters battle a blaze in the old merry-go-round
building at Fantasy Farm Saturday. From
the Middletown Journal.
articles printed 3-11-01 in the Middletown Journal. Donated to the
memorial by Debbie Morrison.]
[You can see the structure lost
in the fire from this aerial photo. It is the striped roof structure
seen on the bottom right of photo. This photo is property of
The Fantasy Farm Memorial.]