BARTLETT – An early Sunday morning fire in Bartlett, resulted in the loss of two separate structures and an 18-wheeler trailer loaded with house hold furnishings.
The fire started at a vacant house at 518 Pietzsch Street, owned by Jerry and Lois Dawson.
The house quickly became engulfed with flames and spread to the trailer. As the flames and heat became more intense, it caused the structure to collapse. One of the walls fell onto a neighboring church causing it to ignite. Both structures and trailer were a total loss.
It was reported that the Dawson house had been unoccupied for several years and did not have water or electricity at the time of the fire.
The church, located on the corner of Pietzsch and Alamo, was built over 100 years ago and was a vintage display of the early 1900s Victorian Gothic architecture. The congregation of the First Christian Church disbanded in the 1990s leaving it abandoned and neglected.
The church recently took on a new life form and was restored and renovated into a special events venue with living quarters. It was currently listed on the real estate market for $360,000.
“It was around 7:30 a.m. when I noticed thick, heavy black smoke west of my store,” said Larry Bohuslav, Red & White Grocery Store owner. “I jumped into my truck and headed towards the smoke. When I got there, the house was fully engulfed with flames that were over 30 feet high.”
Bohuslav said the flames were over the top of the two-story house and much higher than the trees.
“I’ve never seen a fire that large before,” he said. “It was so hot and already out of control that [people] couldn’t do anything else, except watch . . . The fire was so intense that I actually could feel the heat on my face.”
When Bohuslav arrived no firefighters or police had arrived yet, there were only about 10 people watching the house burn.
“I could see the smoke from Granger when I was out for my morning walk,” said Joe Eckols.
April Gersbach-Marek said the fire was so intense that it posed a threat with embers falling on the yard and roof.
“There are so many old and abandoned homes in that area and at any time, if the wind shifted, it could have jumped and moved fast, but the volunteer fire departments worked together like a well-oiled machine and displayed team work,” she said.
Volunteer fire departments from the neighboring towns of Taylor, Granger, Holland, Jarrell, Davilla and Williamson County ESD responded to assist Bartlett’s fire department.
The origin of the fire is unknown at this time and is currently under investigation.