On Oct. 19, 2012, at approximately 10:30 a.m., smoke began billowing from the shirt collar of Big Tex, the State Fair of Texas' larger-than-life mascot. Within minutes, flames engulfed his 52-foot frame, turning the Texas idol into a funeral pyre before worried onlookers, who let out a collective wail when the conflagration consumed his once-beaming face.
Dallas Fire-Rescue responded immediately. "We got a rather tall cowboy, all his clothes burned off," an officer can be heard saying on the dispatch call. Truck No. 777 left at 10:31, but it was too late. Within an hour of the world's tallest cowboy beginning to blow smoke, the Dallas Morning News reported the tragic news: "Big Tex is toast." Only his outstretched arms, belt buckle and metal skeleton were left intact, reported the New York Times later that day.