By David Tuma, Publisher
Being a small business owner is rewarding, but it has its draw backs. There is not fall back plan if you fail. No safety net to make you house payment if your business goes under. There are no government safety nets for small business owners who make up half of the country’s economy.
Leila Valchar bought the building were her gift shop My Giving Tree is located. She supplements her income by renting out part of that building. Roof repairs are just part of dealing with flat downtown buildings. Seems there is always a little leak somewhere. So you can imagine the shock when the roof repair man came into here building and said the roof was on fire.
“I was worried about the artwork. The roofer came down and said there was a fire. I went next door and told them about the fire. The response by the fire department was very quick,” said Valchar.
Firemen arrived on the scene. There were two crews in two fire trucks. Five men went up on the roof and five inside the building. First thing they did is remove the paints and art work to the back of the building. Some of it was valued over $10,000. They didn’t just go in there and blast everything with water.
“You all (businesses) are the ones who support us. We split the crews when we arrived. There was just know way of knowing the extent of the fire till we got inside. Luckily the way the building was constructed the smoke when upwards through the roof. The tar was on fire on the roof. The fire had to be fought both inside and outside,” said Captain Brian Campbell.
After moving the merchandise back they started tearing down the false ceiling. Outside, Valchar had no idea they were saving her property. Once they got the ceiling out of the way, they used controlled bursts to keep the water damage to a minimum. “We intermittently hit the fire with water,” said James McGowan.
“It was smoldering and we pulled some of the wood down that was on fire. These old buildings are just full of heavy old wood. It took about 20-30 minutes to get it under control,” said Campbell.
After they got the fire out, they organized the trash or debris. Water damage was very little and a few weeks later there was no sign of fire. Valchar surprised the firemen when she told them the prices of some of the items they removed. My Giving Tree is loaded with local artist’s art. Some has to be seen to be believed.
Valchar invited to her office Monday to thank them. Of an interesting note, there were two dogs the firemen rescued. One was a poodle that wanted nothing to do with being caught by firemen in full fire fighting gear. They had to chase it down in full gear and it wasn’t easy.
“I am very appreciative of My Giving Tree taking the time to thank the Belton Firefighters. The City of Belton is very fortunate to have some of the best firefighters in the fire service protecting their families and businesses. No doubt the quick and effective actions of the Belton Firefighter’s prevented what could have been a catastrophic fire this day, if the fire had spread to adjacent businesses. I am very proud the firemen took the time and compassion to remove and protect the merchandise, which helped keep damage costs to a minimum for the business owner,” said Pritchard.
“We have the best fire department in the world,” said Valchar. Those on hand for the fire were Chief Bruce Pritchard, Chief Wesley Gilbreath, Captain Brian Campbell, Lt. David Holloway, Fire Marshal Jeff Booker, Firefighter Jarod Vasser, Firefighter Scott Cantu, Firefighter Adam Peiser, Firefighter James McGowan, Firefighter Sam Fite and Firefighter Keaton Przybylski and Firefighter Shane Drake.