|The former apartment and office of John Wesley Hardin|
EL PASO, Texas -- As these words are written the once white gleaming walls of the building where attorney and fast gun John Wesley Hardin had his apartment and his office are collapsed in on themselves. The second and third floors of one of the most historic buildings in El Paso is a burned out ruin. In minutes, a large chunk of El Paso history is ashes.
The well known building, located at the intersection of San Antonio Ave. and S. El Paso Street and directly across the street of the Camino Real Hotel, went up in flames shortly after 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Eventually, more than 100 firefighters were called to the scene where heavy smoke and flames could be seen shooting out of the first floor windows. From the apparent ignition point on the first floor, the fire soon spread to the second and third floors.
The fire raged for hours, eventually destroying the historic old building to the point that the structural integrity is in doubt. The top two floors were knocked down by firefighters to both help control the blaze and keep the building from collapsing.
An official cause for the fire had not yet been determined, but fire investigators are working to try and figure out how and why the fire broke out and spread so rapidly. As of Saturday, both San Antonio Avenue and South El Paso Street are both still blocked by barricades. There is still a police presence as of Saturday evening to ensure that no one goes in or near the building.
Another historic piece of El Paso is a thing of the past. It is sad that a town known as the gateway to the old west is allowed to literally crumble while City leaders argue over who among El Paso's first families gets the next tax abatement to built a new hotel or open a new business. El Paso could rival or even surpass San Antonio in regard to history but not at the rate we are losing it. Too bad, so sad!