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From the editor's desk: Those were hot times

Fire at Tucumcari’s Hampton Inn destroyed the hotel early Wednesday morning, sending dozens of guests scrambling to safety in their pajamas.

Officials said no injuries were reported, but the blaze immediately made a place for itself among the most memorable in the city’s history.

Clovis has plenty of candidates for its “worst” fire, including one in the 400 block of Main Street on April 10, 1937.

A bakery employee who summoned firefighters said he heard two loud explosions and saw a large window had been blown out of J.C. Penney’s storefront at 417 Main. The blasts occurred about 1:40 a.m.

The fire that followed destroyed Penney’s, a neighboring car dealership and an abandoned building that once housed a Piggly Wiggly grocery store.

The Clovis newspaper reported damages at $250,000 — four times more than any previous fire damage in town.

Fire Chief R.V. Miller speculated the blaze was caused by defective wiring, but he could not be sure because of the devastation.

A 1964 fire that destroyed Eastern New Mexico Builders Supply at 2410 Prince Street caused $250,000 to $350,000 in damages.

In addition to heat and flames, the newspaper reported firefighters were “ducking paint cans, which exploded and rocketed out of the main building.”

A trash fire started that disaster.

But while both of those fires caused more financial loss, the “worst” fires in Clovis’ history may have come in 1908 and 1909. In both cases, those Main Street fires wiped out entire blocks and inspired city fathers to require future business buildings be made of brick.

From the Editor’s Desk was compiled by Clovis News Journal Editor David Stevens. Contact him at:

[email protected]

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