Fire Threatened Town
SAVOY – A town meeting has been set for the school house at 7:30 p.m. today to start the ball rolling toward getting some fire fighting equipment for Savoy.
Mayor S. A. Bibby called the fmeeting this morning as an aftermath to the $15,000 fire that destroyed the Savoy Church of Christ Sunday morning.
The blaze, discovered by a passing motorist, at one time threatened the entire town and only the alert work of fire departments from five towns kept at least a half-dozen adjoining dwellings from being destroyed.
Fire trucks from Bonham, Ector, Whitewright, Bells and Sherman answered the alarm.
The fire was discovered about 10:30 a.m. by an unidentified motorist who went to the church door and motioned for the pastor, William E. Hallagan, and told him the roof of the building was ablaze.
Hallagan quickly passed the word to the Sunday school teachers and all of the classrooms were speedily evacuated.
“The older persons were told of the blaze and they helped get the younger ones out,” explained Hallagan. “There was no panic and no one was injured.”
Witnesses said the flames apparently were just waiting for the building to be cleared as the fire fell from the attic into the main auditorium just minutes after it had been emptled.
“It could have been a catastrophe,” reported the pastor.
As the fire started spreading to adjoining dwellings the neighboring fire trucks arrived on the scene. With little chance to save the church, they concentrated on keeping the fire, which was fanned by a stiff breeze from spreading.
The roofs on the houses of Miss Elizabeth Large, Everett Burris, A.R. Hodges and others had been ignited by sparks. Firemen mounted the roofs and kept a spray of water going.
Hay in a barn near the church caught on a garage across the street was on fire and minor damage was done before those flames were put out.
Only one injury was reported. Joe Hule, recently discharged from service and back home in Savoy, suffered minor injuries when he fell from a ladder as he was cutting electric wires.
The pastor had no idea how many were in the church at the time of the fire. Sunday school had about ten minutes more to run when the blaze was reported.
The fire apparently started from defective wiring in the attic.
The church building had been constructed in 1913 after a storm had blown the old one off its blocks. The original church had been build “sometime after the Savoy cyclone in 1880.” Before the cyclone the church had held its meetings south of town in the old Roberts school house. Five years, ago the church had added two classrooms. Only last year restrooms and hot water had been installed after Savoy put in sewerage.
New furniture, most of which was lost, and metal screens had been installed a year or so ago.
All that was saved from the was the communion table and service, two large floor fans, four pews, the pulpit stand and two chairs. A total of $8,000 insurance was carried on the building and its contents, according to J.B. May, who said it probably would take $18,000 to replace the structure today.
“We will rebuild,” said the minister this morning, “As soon as we can get organized we’ll start our plans.”
But meanwhile, all of Savoy was up in arms about the dire need for fire fighting equipment in the town and at the town meeting tonight, it is a good bet that something will be done.
- Denison Herald, February 23, 1954, Elizabeth Large ↩