City and Family Cope With Fire - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

12/02/04 - Nacogdoches

City and Family Cope With Fire

by Donna McCollum

A huge fire Wednesday in Nacogdoches took a lot of manpower to put out. The fire at Morgan Oil Company burned for seven hours after starting early Wednesday morning.

Early cost estimates for fighting that fire have now been figured. The city is estimating overtime, environmental protection, and equipment costs will total about $50,000. Half of that is for the fire fighting foam used at the emergency.

Deputy City Manager Victoria LaFollett said, "It's a major hit, but it's not a catastrophic hit. The other thing, too, we have some recourse in that we are going to be able to apply for some reimbursement through EPA."

Of course, there's no guarantee the city will receive that reimbursement.

Meanwhile, company owners are hopeful insurance will help reimburse them for damage caused by the fire.

For three generations, Morgan Oil Company has been a family run business. Every day, CEO Ed Morgan Sr. comes to his office on Bremond Street, even when it's no longer there. "We're used to this place. We love this place. People ask me, 'Ed, why don't you retire?' I like going to my office. It's home to me."

But now, the wooden office by a railroad track is rubbish. "I guess, to our fault, we never did improve much," said Morgan as he watched a bulldozer scoop up the fire remains.

Instead, money was put into retail outlets. Modest surroundings were good enough for Morgan's dad 70 years ago, and good enough for him when he took over in 1955. His son and son-in-law, now vice presidents, didn't object. Morgan chuckled, "I have to give them the credit. I come everyday, but they're the ones who run it. We haven't missed a beat."

The bulk plant serves mostly small customers, like farmers and mom and pop gas stations. They're still customers, but Morgan wonders for how long. "We may look to move, and we will look at that segment of business, too. It's pretty expensive and not too much volume."

But, as Morgan so effectively said, "We're hanging onto the past," a past that will be difficult to let go.

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