Fort Worth

Fire destroys historic Parker County ranching home

Fire investigators have not ruled on a cause for a Wednesday fire that destroyed a historic home on the Walsh Ranch in Parker County, but contractors had been working on the roof.
Fire investigators have not ruled on a cause for a Wednesday fire that destroyed a historic home on the Walsh Ranch in Parker County, but contractors had been working on the roof. Courtesy

Fire destroyed a historic ranch house at the once-renowned Walsh Ranch on Wednesday night.

No one was injured in the blaze, reported shortly before 7 p.m. The residents weren’t home, but returned as the fire was being fought.

Firefighters arrived to find the 4,000-square-foot single-family home engulfed in flames. They were unable to save it.

“It’s sad to lose a piece of history like that,” Parker County spokesman Joel Kertok said Thursday morning. “Our hearts go out to the family.”

Parker County Fire Marshal George Teague and a team of fire investigators sifted through debris Thursday, but had not ruled on an exact cause by afternoon.

Kertok said contractors had been working on the roof about an hour before the fire was reported. The ranch is in the 12000 block of Aledo Iona Road in rural Parker County just east of Aledo, Kertok said.

The American Red Cross was on the scene to assist the residents and help members of the Aledo Volunteer Fire Department avoid heatstroke, he said.

Parker County emergency services assisted. The Fort Worth Fire Department also sent units, but they weren’t needed, he said. Twenty pieces of fire apparatus were at the scene.

About an hour after the fire was reported, support firefighters could not get to the scene when a train blocked their access, Kertok said

“The train couldn’t move because another train was headed towards them from a different direction,” Kertok said. “There are two accesses to the house, and the firefighters had to go around to the second access.”

A ranch foreman and his wife had lived at the house, also known as the Hildreth home on the Walsh Ranch, officials said.

“There were items found in that home that dated back to 1898,” said Stacey Jandrucko, a spokeswoman with Walsh Holdings in Fort Worth on Thursday. “The house had been restored a few years ago.”

The 7,200 acre-Walsh Ranch was the headquarters of the F. Howard Walsh family ranching operations for about 60 years. In the 1950s, it was known as one of the premier Charolais breeding operations in the country. Some cattle are still on the ranch.

The Walsh family, major Fort Worth philanthropists, are preparing the ranch for a major community development. At buildout, the taxable value of the Walsh Ranch development could exceed $6 billion and it will be among the largest master-planned communities in North Texas.

Jandrucko said on Thursday that a decision had not been made on whether the Hildreth home will be rebuilt.

Staff writer Monica Nagy contributed to this report. which includes information from the Star-Telegram archives.

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