Odessa, TX Fire, Mar 1948

$200,000 Night Blaze Destroys 60 Odessa Stores

Fire Starts in Grocery; Half Block Is Gutted

Odessa, March 26-The largest fire in Odessa History early this morning burned out six business firms, housed in a single large building, and damaged two others.

Fire Marshal Oren L. Gregar set the first unofficial damage estimate at $200,000.

The fire started in the Morris System Grocery, which is about a block north and a block west of the Ector County courthouse.

Three Hour Fight

First alarm was sounded at 12:07. At 1 o’clock, a general alarm was sounded, calling in all firemen who were off duty and every piece of the city’s equipment was thrown into the fight.

The department fought the blaze about three hours, confining it to the single building.

Destroyed were: The Morris Grocery, Sno-Whit Bakery, A&B Drug Store, Parr Shoe Service, Ada’s Beauty Clinic and Roger Ashford Real Estate Agency.

Two business houses just west of the fire, Poe’s Paint Shop and Jack and Jill’s Tot Shop, were damaged by water and smoke as firemen battled the stubborn blaze from the rooftops.

Goods Salvaged

Firemen were able to salvage a great deal of goods and equipment, but no estimate could be put late this morning on the amount saved.

All the shoe shop equipment except one large machine was moved out and all the beauty shop equipment was salvaged.

The grocery store suffered the greatest damage to stock, which was large, including the loss of about $7,000 in meat. The drug store had just completed a $3,000 remodeling job.

More than 1,000 residents of Odessa turned out to watch the fire-fighting. The crowd was generally orderly and cooperative, the marshal said, but there was one arrested for driving over a fire hose.

The building was a masonry and concrete construction, but lack of fire stops made the fire difficult to confine, Marshal Gregar said.

Amount of insurance coverage had not yet been determined. The Morris Grocery was partially covered, store officials said, but not completely because of an unusually large stock.
Abilene Reporter-News, Abilene, TX 26 Mar 1948

Odessa Fire Loss $200,000

Odessa, March 26.-Eight business places were destroyed or damaged as a fire swept through two buildings here early Friday.

Loss was estimated at $200,000.

Six businesses were virtually destroyed when a large building caught fire on the south side of 5th Street between Grand and Lee. Damage to the second structure, behind the large building, was caused mostly by smoke and water.

The fire was discovered at 12:07 a.m. It was believed to have started in the rear of the Morris System Grocery in the large building. The flames were brought under control at 2 a.m.

Fire Marshal Oren L. Gregar blamed the lack of fire stops for the quick spread of the flames.

The grocery, a bakery, a drug store, a shoe store and a beauty shop, all located in the large building were practically destroyed.

A paint store and a [illegible] shop in the smaller structure suffered damages. Most of the stock was saved.

Abilene Reporter-News, Abilene, TX 27 Mar 1948