Landmark business burns in large early morning fire in Slaton

Updated: Jun. 15, 2019 at 10:44 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Multiple West Texas Fire Departments responded to a fire in Slaton early Saturday morning.

The fire happened at 255 West Garza, in Slaton. 911 Dispatch received a call around 2:46 a.m. from Jason Bautista, an employee of Klemke’s Sausage Haus, reporting of smoke in the building.

The fire involved the landmark Slaton business, Klemke’s Sausage Haus and Antique Shop, as well as the Slaton Family Medical Clinic. Klemke’s had been in business for more than 30 years, since 1987.

Responders spent the morning on the scene to prevent re-kindling and spreading. The fire is out as of Saturday evening.

Some witnesses believe the fire was caused by electrical wires, but the state fire marshal is still investigating and has not released an official cause.

Jason Bautista worked for Klemke’s for 18 years. He said he smelled smoke, but from not one of their smokers.

“By the time i got to the middle of the building, black smoke was everywhere. It surrounded me. I didn’t know what was going on. i still was able to get to the front and get out.”

Help arrived but despite the efforts of 22 local fire crews and agencies and about 100 responders, the fire spread from the restaurant to their antique shop, formerly an old movie theater, and down to Slaton Family Medical Clinic.

Al Bendeck is the owner. He said he woke up at four in the morning to several missed calls, one of which was his receptionist.

Bendeck said, “She said, ‘The clinic is burning, we lost everything.’ I got out here at 4:35 a.m.. Obviously, we’ve lost everything.”

The medical clinic said they have another building they’re able to use to continue to treat patients as everyone tries to move forward from this tragedy.

Bendeck said, “I’ve been here 23 years. The building is gone, but we’ll recover. We’ll get our feet back on the ground. and take care of folks.”

"Even my boss over there, he’s keeping his chin up right now. He’s the strongest man I’ve ever met,” Bautista said. “He’s been there for us all these years. The least we could do is be there for him. If he needs help, he’ll have it. Truth be told he doesn’t even have to ask for it, it’s his.”

Slaton Fire Department arrived on scene and found the structure full of smoke. Firefighters initially entered the building to find the source of the fire but were forced to retreat as conditions became worse, instead working defensively to prevent the fire spreading to more structures.

The owners of the Slaton Bakery say their building nearby is fine. However, they will be closed today. If you have placed an order for Saturday they will be contacting you directly. Roads near the scene will remain closed for the time being. The owners of Slaton Bakery have started a GoFundMe for the owners of Klemke’s. You can find a link to make a donation here.

A GoFundMe has also been set up for Dr. Al Bendeck and the staff of Slaton Family Medical Clinic. You can make a donation by following the link here.

The cause of the fire is currently ruled undetermined and the Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office has been called to assist in the investigation.

Approximately 91 customers were affected by power outages from this fire and they are working to get services restored.

100 responders from 22 different emergency response organizations assisted in containing and putting out this blaze:

City of Lubbock Fire Rescue

Buffalo Springs Volunteer Fire Department

Ransom Canyon Volunteer Fire Department

Idalou Volunteer Fire Department

New Deal Fire and Rescue

West Carlisle Fire and Rescue

Wolfforth Fire and Rescue

Woodrow Volunteer Fire Department

Ralls Volunteer Fire Department

Post Volunteer Fire Department

Tahoka Volunteer Fire Department

Lubbock County Road and Bridge

Lubbock County Office of Emergency Management

Lubbock Sheriff’s Office

Lubbock County Commissioners Precinct 2

Slaton Police Department

Slaton Public Works

Atmos Energy

Xcel Energy

Tucker Oil Company

Nutrien Ag Solutions

Strawn Energy Services, LLC

We will work to keep you updated on this developing story.

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