Fire Chief Donnie Morris said that when he was called he asked what the Alice Volunteer Fire Department needed.
He said he 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 chief said he was told that if the Alice firefighters could get aerial trucks to the fire, it would mean that firemen would not have to enter the building.
The fire started in the 100 block of Main Street in that city, in the former Clack’s Furniture Store. Morris said that building and one next to it were involved.
The Alice Echo-News identified the other building as Integrity Supply Co. on King Street.
“It (the fire) was probably about as big as the one we had downtown,” Morris said, referring to a blaze decades ago that took out a significant part of Beeville’s main shopping district at the time.
“There were six or seven fire departments including ours,” Morris said.
The Echo-News identified the other departments as coming from Ben Bolt, Premont, Orange Grove, Kingsville and San Diego.
According to the Echo-News, the fire actually started at about 1 p.m., and firefighters battled the blaze for 10 hours.
The roof of the building eventually collapsed, and the businesses lost everything inside.
Alice’s trucks were called back to the scene Saturday to put out hot spots that continued to smolder.
When the Alice firefighters realized they needed an aerial truck, they called the Ingleside Volunteer Fire Department. But that department’s ladder truck blew a tire and got to the scene late.
“They got there at about the same time we did,” Morris said.
Firefighters here received the call from Alice at about 4:15 that afternoon, and Morris said it was after midnight before they returned to the C.M. “Smitty” Smith Central Fire Station.
According to Morris, the two tower trucks did their job, extinguishing most of the flames before any firemen had to enter the buildings.
The chief said he was not sure how many gallons of water the BVFD’s truck pumped onto the blaze. But the truck ran low on fuel once and the firemen had to refuel before returning to the scene to fight more flames.
By the time the six firefighters returned to Beeville, they had logged 110 miles on Tower 1’s odometer.
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.