Marktplatz building a ‘total loss’ after fire at Wurstfest grounds in New Braunfels, official says

‘We are resilient’; The festival will be back next year despite the fire, officials say

NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas – Wurstfest will be ready for its 60th annual celebration in 2020 following a devastating fire that sparked Thursday night and reignited Friday morning at the festival grounds in New Braunfels, officials said.

“We have no doubt we will be back, we are resilient," said Kelly Kistner, chief of security and safety for Wurstfest, at a press conference Friday.

Kistner said next year’s Wurstfest will kick off on Nov. 6, and will commemorate the 175th anniversary of the founding of New Braunfels.

The New Braunfels Fire Department arrived Thursday to find the Marktplatz building near downtown engulfed in flames. Crews believed it was under control, but the fire reignited around 6 a.m., officials said. There were no reported injuries associated with the fire.

Damage estimates have not yet been released but David Ferguson, a spokesperson for New Braunfels, said there is smoke, fire and water damage to the Marktplatz building. Ferguson declared the building a “total loss” during the press conference.

New Braunfels, Seguin, Canyon Lake, Cibolo, Schertz and Selma fire departments worked to completely extinguish the fire Friday, Ferguson said.

“The majority of the fire is out with crews continuing to put out hot spots and prevent any additional flare-ups,” according to a Facebook post from New Braunfels Police Department.

The cause of the fire is under investigation by the New Braunfels Fire Marshal’s Office, the State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, due to the historic nature of the building.

Ferguson also said the adjacent Wursthalle building sustained smoke and heat damage but is still considered structurally sound.

A portion of the Comal River near the grounds has been temporarily closed due to runoff from soot and foam that firefighters used to help extinguish the blaze, Ferguson confirmed.

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KSAT’s Sky 12 helicopter flew overhead and captured video of some of the damage to the buildings Friday.

The fire reportedly started Thursday night and crews were able to get it under control, however, the fire reignited Friday morning.

The local newspaper, New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung, posted a video to Facebook early Friday showing one of the main buildings on fire, asking people to “steer clear if you can and let the fire officials do their work.”

Wurstfest is a New Braunfels tradition that celebrates the city’s German heritage and started in 1961. The 10-day annual festival, which attracts thousands of visitors every year, just wrapped up Sunday after kicking off Nov. 1.

This is a developing story. Stay with KSAT 12 both online and on-air for more information. See footage and photos from the incident below.

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A fire reignites at Wurstfest grounds in New Braunfels. (KSAT)

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Our town is sad this morning as @wurstfest grounds are on fire. Please say a prayer for our first responders as they fight this fire today. @ Wurstfest

Posted by Downtown New Braunfels on Friday, November 15, 2019
A fire at the Wurstfest grounds reignited Nov. 15. (KSAT)

About the Authors:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.

Steven Cavazos is a traffic anchor and general assignments reporter in the weekday mornings at KSAT 12.