De Soto Rural Fire Chief Paul Mayer says a vivid image comes to mind when he reflects on his 43 years in firefighting.
“There are a lot of things I remember, but the fire at Home Service Oil (in Barnhart) on Christmas Day (1985) stands out,” said Mayer, 61, who is retiring at the end of the month. “I don’t remember the year. I was at Shady Valley (which would merge with Springdale in 2009 to become the Saline Valley Fire Protection District) at the time. We were assisting.
“As we were en route on Hwy. M, we could see the oil drums shooting into the air.”
He said a blaze that occurred in the 1980s in the city of De Soto is memorable, too.
“Then, there was the Commercial Hotel fire on Main Street in De Soto,” Mayer recalled. “Just the fact that it was an all-hands-on-deck fire. I was still at Shady Valley and they were calling people from around the county.”