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Fire at abandoned Ponderosa Apartments property in Commerce destroys 1 building

There have been no reports of injuries from the blaze at the troubled property on Live Oak Street

Today in Commerce, a structure fire broke out at an abandoned apartment complex on the northwest side of Commerce. The property at 2224 Live Oak Street is still known locally as the Ponderosa Apartments.

A City of Commerce statement said a 911 operator received a call at 12:26 p.m. reporting the fire. Commerce Fire Department arrived on scene at 12:29 p.m., the statement said.

The property is on the far western end of Live Oak, on the north side of the road, just west of the shopping center that includes the local Dollar Tree and Goodwill. The property hosts an abandoned large, multi-unit apartment complex composed of several free-standing buildings.

The building on the northeast side was destroyed in the fire. It was engulfed when responders arrived, and firefighters used aerial hoses to contain the blaze. The fire was out at 2:32 p.m., the statement said.

After extinguishing the blaze, units continued to work the scene into the late afternoon. A Hunt County bulldozer knocked over the standing remnants of the building.

Texas A&M University-Commerce alerted the university community at 12:44 p.m. that any smoke in the area was the result of a structure fire at the Ponderosa Apartments.

The property has a troubled history, including a lawsuit filed by the City of Commerce and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality against the former owners. In 2011, the city and the state sued the New Orleans-based company that owned the site, Fountainbleu Management Companies, for dumping asbestos at the property.

The building destroyed Friday was the second building on the property to burn down since the place was abandoned. A previous fire destroyed one of the buildings in 2008.

The property is now owned by Ovanes LLC, an Indianapolis-based property management company. Ovanes bought the site in January 2021 from Estates at Commerce LLC, which had owned the property since 2016. The property has changed hands nine times since 1985 and is currently listed as having a value of $1,068,420.

Conditions were breezy, warm and dry Friday, with temperatures in the 80s by midday and sustained southerly winds around 15 MPH, gusting to 30. Public drought monitoring data classified ground conditions as abnormally dry in northern Hunt County on Friday.

The Commerce Fire Department was assisted today by Wolfe City Fire, Campbell Fire, the City of Greenville Fire, Commerce Police Department, Commerce E-Corp Rescue, Commerce ISD Police, American Medical Response (AMR), the Constable for Hunt County Precinct 2, Justice of the Peace Kerry Crews, Hunt County Director of Homeland Security and Fire Marshall Richard Hill, the Hunt County Fire Marshall’s office, Texas A&M University-Commerce Police Department, Hunt County Commissioner Steve Harrison and staff from Precinct 4.