Placedo residents gather to support volunteer firefighters
March 8, 2014 at 6 p.m.
Updated March 8, 2014 at 9:09 p.m.
If there was ever a moment that reminded the men and women with the Placedo Volunteer Fire Department that they're in dire need of a new truck and tanker, it was a fire last month that claimed the life of a 83-year-old woman.
Ernest Adame Sr., 58, said there was literally nothing he or the other firefighters could do except wait for the Victoria Fire Department to arrive with its tanker.
"That memory sticks with me," he said.
Placedo is down to just one truck - a brush truck - and is reaching out to the community for help.
The volunteer fire department had its first barbecue fundraiser Saturday, when they served up plates of brisket and sausage sponsored by Mumphord's BBQ.
Department president Beverly Barnett said 500 plates sold, raising about $4,000.
The goal is to purchase a tanker truck, which costs between $150,000-$200,000 and holds about 2,000 gallons of water.
Owning a tanker would afford the department the ability to do more, said Fire Chief Robert Zapata.
"We'd be able to put out a house fire," Zapata said. "We don't have that capacity right now."
A $100,000 service grant and an 8 percent match from the Victoria County Commissioners Court will soon provide the department with a fire truck.
Adame, who's volunteered with the department for eight years, said he joined after a friend encouraged him to try making a stronger impact on his community.
That impact, he said, is the reason he's continued to volunteer, "to be honest," he said, "I feel important."
Adame works as an insulator with Gonzales Insulation and spends most of his spare time with the department.
"There's a lot of times when I'm at work, and the pager goes off, and I just wish I was there," Adame said. "I want to be there every single time there is a fire."
Even the hard ones.
"These calls where you go out there and you don't know what to expect - like the one Serene Drive," he said. "I sit here, and I think about that poor old lady not being able to make it out of her home."
On Feb. 22, a home in the 100 block of Serene Drive caught on fire, and 83-year-old Stella Bonuz died in the blaze.
"I think about what more could we have done," Adame said. "It sticks with you."
Adame said he thanks the community for coming out to support the department and raise money for a tanker truck.
"I'm really surprised to have this many people out from the community," he said because of the rainy weather Saturday afternoon. "For them to come out and recognize us, it means so much."