Spectators could only watch in horror as firefighters worked for hours to extinguish the expensive blaze that destroyed several businesses in January 1964.
Those lost included Mergele Jewelers, Ballard Drug Store, Hall’s, Turnipseede’s Boot Shop and the Dougherty offices on the second floor – all in the 200 block of North Washington Street where the Goodwill store, T’s Honky Tonk and Dougherty offices are located today.
Those memories came roaring back when hearing of the dedicated efforts of six members of the Beeville Volunteer Fire Department (and their new, 100-foot tower truck) who went to help battle a large blaze in downtown Alice last Friday.
Fire Chief Donnie Morris made the decision to send the ladder truck after he was told that, because of the nature of the blaze, firemen would be required to enter the building to get to the source.
The fire started in the 100 block of Main Street in Alice, in the former Clack’s Furniture Store. Morris said that building and one next to it were involved.
“It (the fire) was probably about as big as the one we had downtown,” Morris said, referring to the 1964 blaze.
Beeville’s VFD was one of about seven fire departments present to battle the Alice fire for about 10 hours. The BVFD used numerous gallons of water, a large amount of fuel and logged 110 miles on Tower 1’s odometer.
That’s the type of good neighbors these firefighters are. They have been a priceless asset to this rural area since a group of men formed a “bucket brigade” in Beeville in 1905.
According to a story appearing in our newspaper’s Centennial edition in 1986, “Fire Chief Morris remembers seeing Beeville’s fire trucks responding to a call the first time he came through the city with his family when he was only a boy. From that time on, he dreamed of the day he could be a fireman. Morris leads a highly respected department made up of well-trained amateurs and a large number of professional firemen from NAS Chase Field.
“Thanks to the quick action of the department, several potentially serious blazes have been extinguished in recent years before severe damage to public and private buildings could be done.”
Countless lives have been saved and probably millions of dollars in property value salvaged thanks to the firemen’s efforts.
In fact, the BVFD is still looking for a few good men and women. Applicants must be 19 years of age, have a good driving record, no criminal history, have lived in the Beeville area for six months and be able to perform firefighting activities.
If you believe you have the right stuff, and want to be numbered among these brave volunteers, come to the fire station any Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., call 361-444-3473 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We genuinely hope they will be around to rescue our citizens and neighbors well into the next century.
– Chip Latcham