By Andrew Kirby
Is it really time to sum up all of life’s adversity? As I sit to write a compelling article that will hopefully spur a community to come together and build up rather than to tear down, I’m baffled by the continued amount of situations tough enough for a war room. At the lowest of levels I overhear a conversation on what is okay to say, or speak out loud, verses whether or not it should be spoken. In the news today: 36 officers killed in the line of duty already this year, Hurricane Florence pounding the South East Coast and least important, our politicians are losing their minds! Harm comes in many forms, it’s how we thwart it or redirect it toward a positive outcome that matters. Simply said is not always so simply done.
In the early part of the week the phone at the newspaper office began ringing at 6:45 as messages on all three of our phones going off like crazy. Richie’s Grill and Cafe, a Hawkins icon, up in flames.
As I approached the scene at the corner of highway 80 and Beulah (FM 14) I was able to speak to fire fighters, and police as they explained the situation. Owner Ricky Perez and I stood aside as we discussed what to do next. Flames had overtaken so much that highway 80 had to be blocked.
“I’m gonna be okay, my family will be fine, it’s my workers, and our Thanksgiving we are worried about, at this point.” said Ricky Perez, owner of Richie’s.
Conversation with some of the firemen gave an indication that it will be possible to rebuild, however it will be quite an endeavor.
According to Mr. Perez, everything was normal for the morning. As they started the deep fryer and began opening duties, within minutes fire was coming out of the deep fryer.
The Hawkins and Holly Lake Fire Departments responded to the call and fought the blaze ferociously. No injuries were reported and the damage was contained.
According to witness Chase Saxon, the flames got so large that passage on Hwy 80 was unsafe and Hawkins Police Sargeant Scott Randle assisted in blocking the road from through traffic until approximately 10:30 a.m. when the fire was finally completely extinguished by Hawkins and Holly Lake Volunteer Fire Departments.
One question posed by witnesses at the scene is, why would dispatch not call Big Sandy Volunteer Fire Department only 5 miles from away. According to Big Sandy Fire Chief, Jeff Jones, the department was never called to help. Dispatch called Hawkins, who responded quickly with one truck, but needed help. Dispatch then called Holly Lake Fire Department, which is 9.6 miles (according to google maps) from the scene. Hawkins sits in the south-eastern most tip of Wood County. The only entity closer to the Upshur County line is Jarvis Christian College.
Good news? People were already coming together to help that same day. Not only with love and prayers for the rebuilding process and the nearly 25 employees that are put out of work, but with job openings for those left without work and offers for hosting the Thanksgiving benefit at Jarvis Christian College this year. If you’d like to help please don’t hesitate to contact us here at The Journal and we can put you in touch with the right folks. God Bless Richie’s Grill & Cafe and their two other locations in Winnsboro and Grand Saline. We hope that it is possible for Richie’s to return to Hawkins soon.