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Blaze Destroys Large Collection of Wax Figures

September 10, 1988 GMT

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas (AP) _ Fire roared through a museum housing one of the nation’s largest collections of wax figures Friday, destroying many detailed recreations of moments from Texas history.

Almost 300 meticulously sculpted wax figures at the Southwestern Historical Wax Museum - ranging from Elvis Presley to John and Jacqueline Kennedy to Robert Redford and Paul Newman - were lost in the blaze.

″One of the things that has made this fire so difficult to fight was the fact these figures are just like a candle,″ said Lt. Doug Conner. ″They generate tremendous heat. It appears it’s totally destroyed.″

″This was a major attraction in the community,″ said Mayor Jerry Debo. ″It continued to be a major draw when other attractions failed.″

More than 100 firefighters brought the blaze under control nearly three hours after the fire was first reported at the 25-year-old museum, officials said.

One firefighter suffered minor injuries when a high-pressure fire hose broke, Conner said. He was treated and released from DFW Medical Center.

Sonny Marston, operations manager for the Plaza Theater of Wax in San Antonio, which is owned by the Grand Prairie museum, said the company still has about 250 wax figures at its location across from the Alamo, Marston said.

″We don’t know much about the loss yet,″ Marston said of the fire. ″But it’s a temporary setback.″

Popular attractions included the swearing-in of Lyndon Johnson following Kennedy’s assassination, figures of movie actresses born in Texas, and bank robbers Bonnie and Clyde, who grew up just a few miles away.