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2014-09-11

Main residence at Pahaska Teepee Ranch destroyed

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Pictured: Gary Trichter introduced Bud Fitzpatrick at his recent induction into the Frontier Times Museum's Texas Hall of Heroes during the National Day of the American Cowboy celebration. Both Trichter and Fitzpatrick are cowboys through and through.



A freak occurrence might have contributed to the destruction of a portion of one of Bandera County's premier ranches.
At approximately 5 am, Sunday, Sept. 7, a motorist driving on FM 2828 called 9-1-1 to report the blaze, according to Fire Marshal John Stith. By the time firefighters arrived at the property, located near the intersection of FM 2828 and Highway 173 North, the main residence of Pahaska Teepee Ranch was about 90 percent involved in flames, Stith said. "They fought the fire defensively to prevent it from spreading to the nearest structure which was about 25 feet away."
Pahaska Teepee Ranch belongs to nationally noted DWI defense attorney, Gary Trichter, who is also heavily involved in mounted shooting and the western culture. Previously, in the persona of Buffalo Bill Cody, Trichter presented a series of Wild West Shows in conjunction with Celebrate Bandera.
An investigation into the cause of the devastating fire continues. "As yet, we haven't come up with a definitive cause," Stith said in an interview. It has been speculated that a lightning strike might have caused an electric surge that, in turn, ignited the fire.
"Lightning had been reported in the area about a hour before the fire ignited," Stith said. "Data from the area pinpoints where lightening hits and there is a confirmed strike in the vicinity of the house. But we can't prove that the strike actually hit the house. We have to try to find evidence that supports that theory and come up with an hypothesis."
A series of violent thunderstorms, accompanied by myriad lightning bolts, had rolled into the area in the early hours of Sept. 7.
The home, which included Trichter's specially designed costumes and extensive collection of western memorabilia, was completely destroyed. Luckily, however, that was the only building affected and Trichter was not at home when the fire occurred.
"Rain, high humidity and low winds, as well as good work by the firefighters, prevented the fire from spreading," Stith said. Volunteer fire departments from Bandera, Lake Shore and Medina responded to the call, as well as a detachment from Kerr County.
Stith accompanied an insurance investigator back to the site the afternoon of Sept. 9. He said the investigation is proving difficult due to the home's pier and beam construction, which includes rock walls. "Because the floors were of wood, we have nothing to walk on and there's always a danger the weakened rock walls can topple over," Stith said, adding, "That makes it dangerous to do an investigation of the interior."
Trichter's ranch, located north of Bandera, was formerly owned by rodeo legend Larry Mahan.