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FIRE ENGULFS DAVIS MOTORS - Full Story

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Worn and weary firefighters battled a blaze throughout Sunday night as Davis Motors burned to the ground. 

At 11:03 pm on Sunday, the Syracuse Fire Department was paged. A worker at Eagle saw the flames and called it in.  “The whole north side of the shop was already engulfed,” said Fire Chief David Stimatze. 

Hamilton County Fire Department was called for assistance as well as Stanton county, Greeley county and Kearny county fire departments who all came to help. 

Eagle Convenience store stayed open all night and Q’s corner daylight donuts supplied coffee and donuts. 

At 3:00 AM, the south side wall was falling and City Administrator Brian Bloyd used a backhoe to knock it down to get inside to the fire. 

As of 6:20 AM Monday morning, the building still had hot spots. The worst was over. Thankfully no one was inside. 

Stimatze said, “I just appreciate all the help from the county fire department and the surrounding communities fire departments.”

The humble firefighters would grab a shower, a cup of coffee and most headed to work. The volunteer firefighters receive $20.00 per fire, whether that fire is an hour or all night. They don’t do it for the money. They are family and have a heart for their community. 

As Hamilton county citizens woke up to the news, they had a heavy heart for the Davis family and Davis Motors. Grief and tears as people recalled the little antique toys in the window, the Triumph motorcycle and the famous Model T in the showroom, all gone. 

Lacy Roberts, Eagle Convenience store manager said, “We were glad to help. That’s what small community is about. I hope people would do the same if it was us.”

The fire marshall was here Tuesday morning going through the rubble working with an ATF agent from Denver, CO, assisting to help determine the cause. It is undetermined at this time. And it will be a while before the investigation is complete. The insurance inspector was also on scene. Nothing from the scene may be touched until this is all complete. 

On Monday afternoon, Mark bought office supplies and is setting up in his old office where he sold cars in his youth, across Highway 50 on his used car lot. Phone and internet should be up and Davis will be open for business. However, until they have numbers from the insurance adjuster, specifications from Ford on how they must build, the loss of all his specialty tools and their age all make rebuilding a difficult decision.So Mark and Donna and the community will have to wait to see what will happen.    

Davis Motors has been a thriving small business in Syracuse for three generations.

On facebook, John Smith commented, “Bud Smith was standing at the corner on Main street in 1946 when he heard that Davis & Bray were taking orders for new Ford cars. He told me that he took off running, racing another fellow trying to beat each other to the Ford Dealership to put in his order. Everyone wanted a new car after the war as none had been available for years. Dad had a 1929 Model A and a 1940 Chevy. Feb 25, 1946 Dad wrote a check to Davis & Bray for $1097.81 for that new Ford.” 

In the June 18th edition of the Syracuse Journal they were featured as business of the week celebrating 76 years in the community.

Mark Davis’s grandfather Ray Davis and Roll Bray formed Davis-Bray Motor Company in 1939.  At that time, they would travel to Saint Joe, Mo. to purchase cars, then they would tie them together and head back to Syracuse.

In addition to new and used vehicle sales, Davis Motors is a full-service vehicle maintenance business, excluding body work, and currently have ten employees. They closed down their body shop in the mid 1970’s.    

Initially the Ford franchise was Hastings and Lane, named after the late Blythe Lane, and was located in the former Tony & Son’s Body shop. In May 1944, Davis-Bray received the Ford franchise and in 1949 Ray Davis bought out his partner, Roll, making it Davis Motor Company. 

Brent Gould built the Davis Motors building in 1949 for his Dodge Plymouth dealership until 1952 when he moved it to Liberal.  Ray Davis purchased the building from Gould and it became the home of Davis Motor Company acquiring the Mercury franchise in 1953.   

Mark was told the story that on his first birthday around noon, a fire started in the service department from a fuel tank that was pierced by a lift and the pilot light of the steam cleaner ignited the fumes.  When it exploded, it blew the showroom doors open and broke several windows, helping provide oxygen for the fire. 

The fire was extinguished by the City of Syracuse’s newly purchased 1958 fire truck from Davis Motor Company. That was the first fire fought with the new truck. 

Mark has worked hard to be one of the largest generator of retail sales tax in Hamilton County, and also fights to keep our community growing and prospering.  “As one prospers, so do we all,” said Mark.

Mark continues to see the good and is grateful no one was hurt.

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