A significant amount of heavy equipment, vehicles, tools and supplies were casualties of a big fire that leveled a large garage and shop building Sunday night on Highway 137 just north of Raymondville.
Raymondville Fire Department Chief Mike Jackson said seven trucks and more than 20 personnel from three local departments responded to the blaze at about 9:15 p.m.
Jackson said the structure was owned by trucking company owner Marty Merckling and was a total loss. Also destroyed by fire, Jackson said, were three tractor-trailer big rigs (one fully loaded with lumber), an SUV, a gooseneck trailer, a front-end loader, a farm tractor and more.
Multiple explosions resulted from the fire’s intense heat.
“There were welding supplies, propane bottles and all the trucks had full fuel tanks,” Jackson said. “There were also several big truck tires inside, and big round bales of hay on one side.
“It was a big fire, and it got real hot.”
Along with the Raymondville FD, personnel from the City of Houston and Licking fire departments responded. The building was only a few yards west of Highway 137, and Jackson said the roadway was closed in both directions from about 9:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Also responding were two officers with the Missouri State Highway Patrol and a Texas County Sheriff’s Department deputy, along with workers with the Missouri Department of Transportation. Jackson said the MoDOT workers were instrumental in helping reroute traffic due to the road closure.
“There was a lot of traffic backed up,” Jackson said. “But we tried to minimize the impact on traffic as best we could.”
A Texas County Memorial Hospital ambulance crew also responded.
“They did a nice job making sure none of the firefighters were overheating,” Jackson said.
Intercounty Electric Cooperative workers checked nearby power lines Sunday night, and returned again Monday in the daylight.
Jackson said the cause of the fire is unknown, but nobody was injured.
“It was a big fire,” he said. “Our work was more about controlling the situation as much as we could – we weren’t going to make entry into that.”
Jackson said a whole lot of water was sprayed.
“I’d say we flowed somewhere between 25 and 30,000 gallons of water,” he said. “I know we flowed about 17,500 just off of our pumper. It was quite an ordeal.”