Court's Saddlery destroyed | Bryan/College Station, Texas - The Eagle
By VIMAL PATEL
Bryan and College Station firefighters worked Sunday evening for hours to douse a blaze that destroyed Court's Saddlery, which opened in 1956. No injuries were reported and the business was closed when the fire broke out.
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Blaze creates chaos in downtown Bryan, destroys Court's Saddlery
Thick smoke hung over downtown late Sunday as lifelong Bryan resident Kathy Court wrapped herself in a blanket and watched her decades-old family business burn to the ground.
"This was all we knew. This was our life," said Court, 52, the owner of Court's Saddlery, which manufactures equipment for horses and is best known for its award-winning leather saddles.
She and co-owner husband Jimmy, 55, took over the business from Jimmy's parents, who started it when he was just a baby. They were in the same location on the corner of 22nd and Main streets since the mid 1960s.
"I'm numb," she said. "We'll hopefully rebuild."
The Bryan Fire Department responded with five engines, two ambulances and two ladder trucks after receiving the 4:45 p.m. Call, said Chief Mike Donoho.
Firefighters saw flames on the roof and went inside but quickly pulled out when it became clear that the roof would collapse, Donoho said. It did.
"This is extremely frustrating," he said, as flames shot out of the one-story building and a ladder truck rained water onto the blaze, now and then drizzling a crowd of onlookers. "It's a total loss."
The cause of the fire was unknown late Sunday, but an inquiry will follow, Donoho said. Crews will be at the scene all night, and in the morning, a large track hoe will knock down some of the building's brick and metal exterior and pluck debris so pockets of fire can be doused, he said.
Former Bryan Mayor Mark Conlee, who owns property in downtown, said he remembered his grandfather buying saddles from the Court family.
"They've been good members of Bryan and Brazos County as long as I can remember, since I was a little kid," he said.
Because of the blaze, 252 Bryan Texas Utilities customers went without power for about three and a half hours starting shortly before 5 p.m.
"It was requested by the fire department because their trucks were parked underneath power lines," said Bob Wheeler, a BTU spokesman. "The lines had to be deenergized for [the firefighters'] safety."
The 28,000-square-foot warehouse was insured, but Kathy Court still worried as she sipped coffee. She doesn't know what will happen to the company's 37 employees, many of whom also huddled in blankets late into the night watching the firefighters at work.
"We'll take it one day at a time," she said.