The Latest Adventure of DaddyClaxton

I got a text message from one of my 11-year-old twins last night at 11:01 pm.  She was the Kroger in Balch Springs with her mother and she said, “Hey, there’s a fire to go chase after.”  (I’m not going to say anything about her being at Kroger at 11 p.m. on a Friday when she’s 11.)

So I got in the car with camera, rod tripod, etc. and went.

When I got to the scene at Brook Valley and Hickory Tree, things were well under way in an abandoned apartment building.  The Balch Springs Fire Department had three trucks on the scene, a CareFlite ambulance, hoses everywhere, and the building well engulfed.  Shortly after I got there, Engine 4 from Mesquite joined in the battle.  It was about 98 when I got in the car according to the temperature gauge.  With a two story building on fire it was even hotter at the fire. 

To my knowledge, none of the firefighters were hurt during the ensuing two-three hour engagement.   (I left at 12:51 a.m. and no one had been hurt at that point.   CareFlite medics kept the firefighters well hydrated.)

But the building of the apartment, which clearly had been emptied some time ago, and this was someone deciding they wanted to see things burn on a boring Friday night, is pretty much destroyed.  I wonder how long it’s going to take the property owner to get it demolished.  (Which reminds me, I need to call James Claxton at Claxton’s Demolition Services and let him know…. No relation.)

I’d say it’s been a long time since I’d been to shoot a fire like the one last night, but it really hasn’t been all that long.  Balch Springs Fire assisted Dallas County last week in a trailer park fire.  I got some great pics to take the department then, too.  And of course, back in my DISD days, when we were in the middle of finalizing the building permits and all for what’s become of Jack Lowe Sr. Elementary  School and Sam Tasby Middle School abandoned apartments went up in flames on a Sunday afternoon.  I think I told Jason Trahan from The Dallas Morning News jokingly and to the affect that “maybe they should let it burn a little longer” so we could save in demo costs.  He put it in the paper, which drew sneers in some corners and then laughs out loud in others. (I still think it was funny.)

Last night’s fire, aside from a building being burnt to the ground, proved largely uneventful.  They put the fire out.  No one got hurt.  But I did get some great photos for the city and the guys in the department.  I’ve shot a good round of pic for B Shift and C Shift.  One more to go. 

You can see more of the pics I shot last night here.




  1. Jason Trahan

    You almost got it right. Here’s that blast from the past.

    ++++++++++++++++++

    Fire damages apartments on site bought for schools

    Mostly abandoned complex set to be razed this summer

    JASON TRAHAN

    Publication Date: May 9, 2004

    A four-alarm fire Saturday tore through a dilapidated, mostly
    abandoned northeast Dallas apartment complex set to be razed this
    summer to make way for two Dallas public schools.

    No one was hurt in the blaze, which started at 2:21 p.m. at The
    Villas at Vickery, at Fair Oaks Avenue and Ridgecrest Road. About
    100 firefighters took about 90 minutes to put out the fire, the
    cause of which was unknown. Flames caused about $200,000 in damage
    and destroyed about 40 units of the three-story complex, built in
    1974.

    “We still don’t know how many people were inside,” said Lt. Joel
    Lavender, a fire department spokesman. “There were a few residents
    here and there, but there were a lot of people who shouldn’t have
    been there who just kind of faded into the crowd when everybody got
    out.”

    The Dallas Independent School District acquired the complex in
    mid-March for $14 million, said Donald Claxton, district spokesman.
    When all the residents leave, the district plans to build a middle
    and elementary school on the site as part of the $1.37 billion bond
    program that voters approved in 2002.

    Fire and school officials acknowledged Saturday that in the last
    few weeks, firefighters had been called to the boarded-up complex
    several times for small fires and nuisance calls.

    “You can try to keep people out, but if there is available shelter,
    people are going to do everything they can to get out of the
    elements,” Lt. Lavender said.

    Mr. Claxton said the district still plans to raze the complex this
    summer and open the $30 million school complex, serving about 1,600
    students, by 2006 or 2007.

    “Someone has just helped us with the demolition,” he said.

    Peggy Rhodes, a 14-year resident, gestured to a nearby U-Haul truck
    Saturday afternoon and said she planned to finish moving out as
    soon as the fire trucks left.

    “They put it out before it got to my stuff,” she said. “I’m not mad
    about moving. I could stand the change.”

    She said the property had declined in recent years, but really hit
    rock bottom after DISD bought it.

    “We had about 12 little fires in two or three weeks,” she said.
    “We’ve got prostitutes, squatters, drug heads here. They get
    arrested and get mad, then they come back and say, ‘I’m going to
    show them.'”

    E-mail jtrahan@dallasnews.com

  2. Donny Claxton

    Thanks for the posting. It brings back such fond memories. Or something like that.


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