David Ball – For The Record

The Pinehurst City Council received a step by step account about the fire at the Dollar Tree on Strickland Drive that occurred on October 14 at their regular meeting on the evening of October 20 after Councilman Dan Mohon asked for a report.

Mayor Pete Runnels was absent from the meeting.

Shon Brannon, chief of the Pinehurst Volunteer Fire Department, reported the call went out that morning at 7:13 a.m. He was on the scene at 7:20 a.m. Fire was was seen on the exterior of the building. Crews began unrolling the five-inch hoses to attack the fire.

Bridge City, Little Cypress, and West Orange provided mutual aid to ensure there’s was enough personnel there.

They first attacked the overhang of the building and “knocked down real quick,” he said.

The way the building was structured served as a type of tunnel for the smoke to travel. Little Cypress firefighters cut access to the roof for ventilation.

Brannon said they were fortunate the Dollar Tree manager arrived when she did because four employees were in the back of the store working stock and they may had not made it to the front because of the smoke.

Kam Wah Restaurant next door suffered some smoke and they also had a gas leak that was later repaired. The H&R Block, also next door, moved to Beaumont for the present time. Mi Casa had “a little smoke,” but they still stayed opened. In fact, the restaurant fed the firefighters that day. J. Scott A Florist had little damage.

“Everyone was very professional. They done a real fine job,” Brannon said.

Fire Marshal Bryant Champagne of the Orange County Emergency Services District #1 investigated later that day and determined it was an electrical fire in origin.

Brannon said if the fire happened earlier that morning the store would had lost much more than it did.

The Dollar Tree is still closed for business. Harry Vine, code enforcement officer, estimates it will take six to eight weeks to open because the entire facade must come down.

City Manager Robbie Hood told Brannon he and the firefighters did a great job.

In other reports, Hood said city water and street personnel have been doing maintenance and lawn work around city hall. In fact, they mowed the lawn on Friday, October 16 before opening. It took them one-and-a-half hours to complete the work.

They also bleached and washed the exterior of city hall and they plan to re-stripe the parking lot, front and back, and make the spaces wider. They will rope off areas so people may still drive around.

“Preventive maintenance goes a long way,” he said.

Councilman Mike Anderson asked Hood the status of the sewer project on Lark Street. He said crews will start busting pipes on October 22 and they have 60 days to complete the job. Hood said residents on the street should have better sewer and repaved streets after they are done.

Councilwoman Sarah McClendon asked Hood about the trash pickup in the city. Hood said they just signed a three-year extended contract with Republic Services. New receptacles are on order and should arrive the first of the year. Trash pickup will remain two times a week.

Councilman T.W. Permenter asked about can liners for the new receptacles. Hood said the liners cost $85 for a case of 1,000 trash bags which are $.09 a bag. The liners will come from Republic.

Permenter also said citizens have been asking him why the city is building a dog track at the old Maximum Effects beauty shop on Park Avenue and the senior park on Park Avenue hasn’t started yet. Hood said a committee will be formed and a plan then put in place before building.

In other city business, the council adopted an ordinance denying a rate increase request from Entergy Texas.

Attorney Tommy Gunn reported attorneys are representing a consortium of cities across Texas. They suggest approving the ordinance which would deny the rate increase. Gunn said this is a typical procedure from Entergy.

The council also approved an interlocal agreement with the city of Orange to extend the contract of Attorney Tim Richardson. Hood said the U.S. Justice Department awarded a $20.8 billion fine against BP Deepwater Horizon for the oil spill in 2010. Of that amount, $4.9 billion went to the five Gulf states affected and $1 billion to local governments.

Pinehurst, along with other Orange County cities, is interested in using the funding to build a regional wastewater treatment plant. They also have other projects on the “wish list.” The amount of the awards are based on population.

City Secretary Debbie Cormier was reappointed for one year.

Mohon said Cormier does an “outstanding job” and the city is glad to have her. Many on the council seconded those sentiments. Councilman John Zerko thanked her for her service and he was glad to have her another year.