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Confessions indicate Beach Club burn was arson

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Portions of the Bandera Beach Club, owed by Gerhard Retief, went up in flames the evening of Sunday, April 21, according to Bandera Fire Marshal John Stith. Law enforcement reports indicated that on Tuesday, April 23, two juveniles confessed to starting the blaze. No further details were available at press time.
City of Bandera Marshal James "Charlie" Hicks said the first indication that something was awry in the 1100 block of Cherry Street occurred as Deputy Marshal Ruben Nino came out of a service station that evening and noticed a plume of smoke rising toward the south end of town.
"By the time the (emergency) call came in at approximately 7 pm, the structures were fully engulfed," Hicks said. He added that storage sheds and tubes had been destroyed and buses and kayaks had been damaged. Other structures included an enclosed gazebo and deck area.
State Fire Investigator Jeremy Clark arrived on the scene the next morning. During Clark's initial investigation, Hicks said that a K-9 unit found no indication of accelerants being used. Details of the exact cause of the fire remained unknown by press time.
As Stith explained, the office of the state fire marshal was called simply because the fire occurred in the city. "I'm a county fire marshal and have little jurisdiction in the city unless my input is requested." He said an interlocal agreement between the city and county would give him more leeway to investigate fires breaking out within the city limits.
Firefighters with the Bandera Volunteer Fire Department quickly contained the blaze. "They had a good water source and were able to contain the fire before it spread to other property," he said. A call for the Pipe Creek VFD was cancelled.
As yet, monetary damages to Retief's property have not been assessed.
Currently, the fire remains under investigation by Stith, Hicks and the State Fire Investigator Clark. "We still working diligently on it," Hicks said. A follow-up to this ongoing story will be published in the Thursday, May 2, edition of the Courier.

Pictured: Photo by Dennis Allyn
A fire on Sunday, April 21, destroyed much of the Bandera Beach Club on Cherry Street.