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Fire has played a tragic role in Holcomb's history


In the early 1920s the town's hotel was destroyed in a night blaze that William Holcomb vividly remembers. "I was 3 or 4 years old," he says. "All the town was there. And to keep me from getting in the way, Mother sat me on top of a grand piano they had carried out of the hotel." The hotel furniture that could be saved was carried to the train depot nearby. As in all fires of that era, once the blaze began, the townspeople tried to rescue the contents, but were forced to watch the building burn. Fortunately, this blaze didn't spread.

On the night of Aug. 23, 1927, it was a different story. On that night, a fire blamed on arson began in the stores on Nouth Main Street in the middle of the night. Again the town raced to save the stores' inventories. Before the blaze died out, 17 of the town's 22 stores were gutted. The date of this fire would prove to be a sad turning point for the bustling railroad town. Hopes of rebuilding were crushed by the Great Depression just two years later.

But times have changed

Fire volunteers

Lining up with their pumper truck, are (front row from left) Charles Melton, Danny Thomas, Mike Perry, Ricky Prewitt, (back row from left) Mike Walters, Bob Hayward, Howard Hayward, Steve McCain, Donald McCalop, Marc Hayward and Mike McCalop.

New truck

Holcomb VFD's first new truck, a 1996 E-One Pumper with a 1,000-gallon tank.
Ten years after the 1927 blaze, in the winter of 1937, fire struck again. This one started at night in the barber shop, where an oil heater may have been left on. This time, 10 Main Street stores burned. This blaze, too, had a grim aftermath that slowed recovery: the beginning of World War II.

These memories make the town especially proud of today's Holcomb Volunteer Fire Department. Modern trucks, equipment and fire hydrants throughout the town provide safety earlier residents never dreamed of. Holcomb now has two fire stations, the original one on Highway 8 and a new one on Highway 35. Holcomb volunteer firefighters now protect a district that has grown to 109 square miles.

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