Before mid-morning Monday, smoke still billowed from the dilapidating Lions Club’s burning tube rental building. Photos by Andy Sevilla.
By ANDY SEVILLA
After a Monday fire resulted in “a complete loss” of the San Marcos Lions Club’s stock of inner tubes, local Lions resolved to more forward and preserve a tradition of recreation and fundraising that has marked the city’s summer life for more than 30 years.
An early morning blaze Monday destroyed the Lions Club tube rental building located in San Marcos City Park. The Lions have rented inner tubes to water lovers on the San Marcos River for more than two generations.
The fire started between 5:00-5:30 a.m., causing significant damage to the roof of the cinder block building and destroying the contents of the Lions Club tube rental, which operates out of the west side of the building.
Mike Rhoades, president of the Lions Club’s San Marcos chapter, said the club had recently received a $15,000 shipment of special order tubes from China that were “completely destroyed.”
“We self-insure ourselves,” Rhoades said. “So it’s a complete loss.”
Fire fighting efforts were hampered by the lack of water supply and fire hydrants at the park, according to San Marcos Fire Marshall Ken Bell. He said South Hays County Fire Department was called for mutual aid to provide water tender trucks to the four San Marcos fire station trucks already present.
Bell said the building took on “just over 40 percent damage.” Bell said combustible materials inside and the lack of water kept the blaze alive “longer than we would have liked.”
The Lion’s Club tube rental concession area, restrooms and kitchen sector were destroyed.
One firefighter was injured when he was struck by a metal fragment while cutting through a metal door during the salvage and overhaul operation after the fire.
Despite the “misfortune,” Rhoades said the Lions will work hard to maintain a fundraising and recreational tradition that has become definitive of the summer life in San Marcos.
“It’s something we didn’t want to see, but we will continue forward,” Rhoades said. “I was concerned about how we’re going to take care of the people in our community that depend on our donations from our business. But we will continue and we will operate.”
The Lions convened a special meeting Monday night at the San Marcos Activity Center. Rhoades said the board decided to purchase new tubes from a local vendor amounting to approximately $15,000 in efforts to continue business as usual.
“We’re in the process of working that out right now,” Rhoades said. “But we have some money available. We have some emergency money we can use.”
The Lions began renting inner tubes for riding the San Marcos River currents during the 1970s. At first, the Lions rented 20-40 tubes per day from a cattle truck with a portable air compressor located behind Joe’s Crab Shack. At the end of each day, the tubes were stored in a club member’s garage.
The concession has now grown to 800-850 tubes per day, making the program the local Lions’ largest fundraising enterprise. Proceeds enable the Lions to donate to more than 100 charities in the area.
Rhoades said no vehicles or trailers were damaged during Monday’s flare-up.
“We’ll be open again before Memorial Day,” Rhoades said. “We’ll be renting tubes out of portable (buildings) at the City Park.”
Bell said security measures were put in place to secure the scene Monday overnight.
A cause for the fire has not yet been identified, but Bell said a full report is expected by “mid-day tomorrow.” Bell said a monetary value damage has not been determined, but is expected after the investigation.
When the smoke cleared, the tube rental building had been 40 percent destroyed.
Fire trucks work to put out the blaze.
Rain and fire made for a smoky situation Monday morning at the San Marcos Lions Club’s tube rental facility in San Marcos City Park.Email | Print