Hangar fire at Hooks Airport injures one

December 6, 2009 8:22:16 PM PST
A fire engulfed a hangar at Hooks Memorial Airport in northwest Harris County sending at least one person to a hospital with burns. Investigators are looking into what exactly started it. A few planes were in the hangar at the time of the fire. The investigation and cleanup is going on at the airport just east of Tomball.

Flying over the Hooks Airport, planes could see the smoke and flames pouring from a burning hangar.

"We got a phone call from a neighbor saying there had been some explosions," said neighbor Chuck Scott.

Neighbors say its owner, Dell Martin, was one of several in their community who also lived and worked here, keeping his family's home on the hangar's second story.

With his wife and son at church, Martin was reportedly alone inside when the fire started. As it quickly spread, firefighters say he rushed to save several airplanes he kept there, burning himself in the process.

"There was one victim transported to Hermann Hospital with burns. We're not sure the severity of that at this time," said Harris County Fire Marshal Chad Shaw.

Firefighters say by the time they arrived, heavy flames had spread throughout the building, and with the nearest hydrant two miles away, they worked to funnel water from nearby pond normally used as a landing strip for sea planes. With barrels of fuel stored inside, the fire grew too big too fast.

"I think we all see what can happen and how quickly it can happen," said Scott.

The Harris County Fire Marshal's Office is investigating the fire. Several sources told us that Martin said he accidentally spilled some chemicals that he was mixing for fuel.

The Klein Fire Department believes three to five small planes were destroyed in the fire. Its chief says this is the first major hangar fire he's seen in his 27 years in the department.


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