Fire in Flatonia destroys personal library filled with 70,000 books and thousands of other reading materials


According to the owner, he started collecting books and other documents when he was seven or eight years old.

FLATONIA, Texas — Earlier this month, Gary Hoover’s house burned down.

“Once it started and with such a load of fire we just couldn’t get enough water on it,” Flatonia Volunteer Fire Department said chef Greg Robinson.

According to Hoover, he had a collection of 70,000 books and tens of thousands of maps, pamphlets, CDs and other media in his personal library. Robinson noted that there was so much equipment in the house that firefighters couldn’t get inside to put out the flames.

“It’s too close to our house, so we called the state fire marshal’s office, and they sent in two investigators,” Robinson said. “The damage was so extensive that last I heard of it it was under investigation, undetermined.”

There was so much damage that once the fire was out they had to call in a crew to tear down the rest of the structure that had stood for decades. Hoover had only lived there for five years.

Robinson and his crews also had staffing problems. The fire started in the middle of the day when the Flatonia Volunteer Fire Department has fewer people able to respond. He called for mutual assistance from other departments to help put out the flames.

“We realized the incident pretty quickly and decided to go on the defensive, you know, just to try and protect the adjacent structures,” Robinson said.

Because Hoover started collecting when he was a kid, he has a GoFundMe to try to replace what he can as well as to find accommodation.

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