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Family's historic property burns; vandalism suspected

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
Oct. 3, 2010 at 5:03 a.m.

Capt. Michael Beacker, right, leaves for a glass of water and a short break as his fellow firefighters work to put out every last bit of the fire that engulfed a house Sunday off of Nursery Drive next to De Tar Hospital. The house, which was vacant at the time of the fire, sits on about 200 acres of land that is up for sale. Although the fire is still under investigation, firefighters believe that it could have been caused by vandals.

A vacant single-family home resting on 200 acres of historic Victoria farmland burned to the ground Sunday from what appeared to be an act of vandalism.

"We suspect it was vandals," Carrie Rosenquest, co-owner of the home, said. "We had a break-in two weeks ago, and someone broke all the windows and every light fixture."

Victoria Fire Department responded to the emergency call on Nursery Drive at 12:15 p.m. and remained on scene for several hours to ensure the flames were extinguished.

"It's a total loss," Victoria Fire Department Battalion Chief Tracy Fox said.

The home, formerly belonging to the late Albert and Essie Mae Rosenquest, was built 43 years ago by the Rosenquest family. The structure has been unoccupied for seven years, and there were no items in the home when it caught fire Sunday afternoon.

"I'm just glad Albert and Essie Mae weren't around to see this," family member Hazel Rosenquest said.

The 200 acres of land surrounding the home have been in the Rosenquest family for more than 100 years, Carrie Rosenquest said.

"The Clark family owned the land until the Rosenquests bought it over 100 years ago," Carrie Rosenquest, Albert Rosenquest's daughter-in-law, said.

When the Clark family still owned the land, there was a Clark School that operated on the property, close to where the current DeTar Hospital now sits.

About six members of the Rosenquest family arrived at the fire Sunday afternoon. Many of them share ownership of the estate and watched the family home they loved burn down before their eyes.

"It's just sad. I've spent a lot of time here, and there's a lot of memories in that house," Rosenquest family member Melinda Macek said.

An investigation is ongoing to determine the cause of the fire. No injuries were reported.

The Rosenquest land is currently for sale for commercial development.

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