Vicious Fire Destroys Much of Business District
SAVOY-A vicious pre-dawn fire which started in a frame building swept through the south side of Savoy early Saturday and laid waste to a large part of the business district of this West Fannin County town of 314 persons. Claude Strickland, postmaster was awakened at 4:30 a.m. by the crackling of the fire. From his window he saw the flames spouting from the rear of the frame garage building owned by Cecil H. Moore, at the east end of the half block of business buildings.
A brisk breeze which fanned North Texas Friday night and early Saturday picked up the fire and spread it westward through the entire row of businesses. Strickland quickly sounded the alarm which brought Savoy’s new volunteer fire department and crews of fire-fighters from Sherman, Bonham, Bells, Denison and Whitewright as well.
But all of the frame buildings in the row where the fire started were completely destroyed. Included, besides the garage building which housed a barber shop in the front and stored hay in the back, was a grocery, produce market and feed store and the Savoy Masonic Lodge.
Loss at the grocery and feed store, operated by Floyd Russell, Raymond and Elizabeth Large, was $5,000. None of it was covered by insurance, according to Russell Large.
“It sure makes a man sick to wake up and see everything lost in a fire,” Large commented. He said the store was in an estate which had never been divided.
Loss Not Known
Estimates of the total loss were not available, but it was expected to reach high into the thousands
of dollars. The three buildings carried a total of $1,800 in fire insurance.
Moore said his garage building usually had several cars parked in the rear overnight, but there were none there at the time of the fire. However, a soft drink truck, fully loaded and ready for the Saturday morning delivery of driver G.H. Reagan was completely destroyed. All the equipment of the barber shop, operated by Moore, also was a total loss. Some 30 to 35 bales of hay still smoldered among the ruins of the rear part of the building at noon Saturday.
A pig pen on the east side of the garage building burned, literally roasting two Hampshire shoats alive. They belonged to Moore’s sons, Eddie and Douglas.
The Masonic Lodge building, on the southeast corner, was one of the oldest buildings in Savoy. The building and all its contents were destroyed.
Another fraternal order, the Savoy Odd Fellows, occupied the upstairs portion of the grocery building until a few years ago, when this order was moved. The second floor of the building was vacant.
The spectacular early morning fire attracted a large number of spectators from miles around. The fire-watchers at times hampered the work of the volunteer fire crews, but some of the spectators pitched in to help move hose around the buildings.
Heart of the fire was less than 100 feet from the Savoy water tower and supplemental tower, and the water supply was adequate, once firemen arrived.
It was Savoy’s second major fire this year. Early this year, Savoy Church of Christ was destroyed by fire during a Sunday morning, service, and a new brick building to rep1ace it is nearing
That fire resulted in organization of Savoy’s volunteer fire department, with the aim of preventing recurrence of such a loss. But Saturday’s fire, fanned by the breeze, while the town slept, took an unfair advantage.
As Savoy residents began to awaken after the fire started, they I heard popping noises and thought ammunition must be stored in one of the buildings. But the explosions, likened to the sound of machinegun fire, were pop bottles exploding on Reagan’s truck.
Traffic in Highway 82 was tied up more than two hours as firemen from the six towns battled the blaze. The heat was so intense that plate glass windows in three brick buildings across the street were broken, and paint was peeled from the walls.
- Ray Atteberry, Democrat Staff Writer, Sherman Democrat – August 15,1954 ↩