Two-alarm fire destroys business in west Houston

November 12, 2010 8:13:43 PM PST
A raging fire at a west Houston business sent children from a nearby daycare running for safety.

Fire crews were there for about six hours on Friday and brought in heavy machinery to break through the metal siding and the roof to make sure the fire was completely out.

It was business, but not as usual on Friday evening at Mike Nugent's Golf Shop. The afternoon was suddenly interrupted by smoke.

"It was real black, like a car fire," Nugent said. "And I looked down, and it was coming out through the door. The windows blew out and something flew into the parking lot -- on fire."

It was the strip center's anchor tenant, a Dollar General store that was on fire. Flames were shooting from the roof; the heat was enough to melt the metal beams, which caused the roof to collapse.

It grew into a two-alarm situation, but the fire was difficult to put out because of the store's inventory that turned into what firefighters call a heavy fuel load.

"The Dollar General store was already stocked up for Christmas and had their decorations out; so yes, it was plenty of combustibles in there to heat up that steel," Houston Fire Department District Fire Chief Roy Hamm said.

No one was injured and the only three people inside the store escaped safely.

Nearby, at daycare center, SkyEye HD captured children outside on a playground. They were eventually evacuated, and parents were called to pick them up early.

Water was still being sprayed on the smoldering building on Friday night.

Much of the strip center was already vacant, which is a sign of the economy these days. Nugent worries about the effect a gutted section of building will have a few doors down on his business.

"Not gonna help me, no," he said.

When the heat subsides, investigators will move in to probe how the blaze began.

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