Volatile chemicals found after house fire put out

September 29, 2010 9:49:42 AM PDT
A Hazmat team was busy Wednesday morning after a fire broke out in the garage of a home on Houston's south side. The chemicals, include several containers of ether, were discovered after a fire at a home undergoing renovations on Akard and Rubin.

Construction crews are now demolishing the garage where that fire happened. It was all contained to the garage area.

Neighbors say they were shocked last night when they heard a loud bang and then saw roaring flames, but they say what's even more shocking is knowing what was likely going on right in their back yard.

"It was a loud explosion," said neighbor Milton Williams.

And what happened next could be seen from blocks away.

"You could see the flames at about 20 feet in the air," said Williams.

One neighbor told Eyewitness News she heard the loud bang and then a loud scream and when she looked outside she saw at least three men running from the burning garage, then jump in a truck and drive off.

Firefighters put the blaze out but made a disturbing discovery -- dangerous chemicals likely used for a drug lab.

"Because of the chemicals we are dealing with, we thought we needed to be very careful," said Robert Koryciak with the Houston Fire Department Arson Bureau. "Not only are they very dangerous to health, they are very volatile and explosive."

Arson investigators, Hazmat crews, along with state and federal investigators spent more than 14 hours carefully collecting evidence and recovering hazardous chemicals.

Neighbors say they are thankful for the fire and for what showed up in the ashes.

"For it to happen was a blessing in disguise because who knows what else could have been going on. This is a quiet community, we're God-fearing people and who wants this at your front door?" said neighbor Ann Brock.

We're told they are demolishing the garage because the structure is no longer stable. The house was under renovations and neighbors say they have seen people moving furniture into the house and the garage over the last two weeks.

Investigators told us they have spoken with the homeowner and expect to speak with him again. So far there are no suspects and no arrests have been made.

One firefighter was transported the hospital with injuries related to smoke inhalation. There is no word on his condition.

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