Two-alarm fire burns apartments near Med Center

June 7, 2011 3:06:11 AM PDT
At the height of Monday's storms, nearly 38,000 CenterPoint Energy customers were without power.

The lighting was a major problem Monday afternoon, especially in the Texas Medical Center, where lighting sparked a two-alarm apartment fire. Some residents say they heard a loud noise just before seeing smoke and flames.

Fire crews rushed to the scene. Just a few minutes earlier, there was a storm that could be to blame.

"I was sleeping in my apartment, and there was thunder and lightning for maybe five to 10 minutes," resident Nadia Husain said.

The smoke could be seen from a distance. Up close, fire burned along the roofline at Amli Medical Center Apartments.

As the residents ran to safety, Heidi Garza was rushing to the complex.

"I know that smoke damage can affect their lungs and I was just worried. I've had her for seven years; I don't want to lose her," she said.

Her seven-year-old Chihuahua, Cookie Dough, was still inside. Firefighters found Cookie Dough hiding in the apartment.

With temperatures topping triple digits, firefighters went from spraying water to pouring water on themselves.

"We put them into our rehab and get them water, probably looking at every 20 minutes, 30 minutes. When they go through an air bottle we get them out and we get them hydrated," Houston Fire Department Deputy Chief Blake White said.

Cloud cover and rain gave them some relief. About an hour and a half after the fire started, it was out, damaging almost 10 apartments, including Garza's.

"Smoke damage is nothing compared to the memories my neighbor lost," Garza said.

Four units have heavy fire damage; five to six more with smoke and water damage. Management at the complex is helping those displaced.

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