Fire rips through apartment complex

February 2, 2009 4:28:50 AM PST
A three-alarm fire overnight destroyed 16 units at a two-story apartment complex.[SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

It happened around 11:30pm at the Pathway Apartments on Elmside and Westheimer in west Houston. When crews arrived they found fire shooting from the roof of the apartment building and it was spreading to a second building.

This fire spread very quickly and it didn't help matters that the fire department had some trouble with the water. A third alarm was called within seconds of the first crew arriving, but there was little residents could do to save any of their belongings as the fire destroyed everything.

"I just stopped, dropped and rolled like they tell you to do when you see a fire coming and I rolled to the door, came out and saw everyone outside. It was just ridiculous. There was fire everywhere," said one displaced resident with whom we spoke.

"There are eight units in the building that we are looking at closest to us," said Fire Chief Tommy Dowdy with the Houston Fire Department. "There is another building parallel to it that also sustained heavy damage and two buildings perpendicular that had slight damages from the heat. It looks like it's going to be a total loss in these two buildings, 16 total units."

Crews did have some issues with water pressure, which added to the loss. The buildings are in the back of the complex and firefighters had to hook several different lines together to get to the closest hydrant. It also took some time to get the right amount of water pressure to put out the fire.

Everyone was able to make it out of the burning buildings safely.

Residents said a grease fire in an upstairs apartment where someone was cooking may be the cause, but fire investigators have not made any official determination.

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