Massive fire breaks out at N. Harris Co. apartments

Image from fire that burned in north Harris County Monday

August 31, 2011 3:32:12 AM PDT
Firefighters battled a two-alarm fire at an apartment complex in north Harris County Tuesday afternoon.

The fire broke out around 4:30pm at the Savannah at CityView Apartments on Wayforest and Richcrest near Bush Intercontinental Airport.

Authorities are still investigating the cause of the fire but tenant Shakeita Newsome tells us her mother was making a chicken dinner in their first-story unit when a small grease fire quickly took off. But residents tell Eyewitness News the blaze shouldn't have gotten that big.

"All I heard was something pop, like the whole stove went boom, and it just blew up. It was a little flame that we could've gotten with a fire extinguisher while we were standing there. That's how small it was, but then no body had (an extinguisher) but one person and nothing come out of it," Newsome said.

"This could have been prevented with a fire extinguisher, one fire extinguisher," tenant Sergio Newsome said.

At the peak of the fire, two buildings were engulfed in flames. About 80 firefighters from several agencies responded to the fire and pumper trucks were used to battle the blaze and had the fire under control in about 40 minutes.

There were no reports of any injuries, but 24 units appeared were completely destroyed. About five had water and smoke damage. However, the management at the apartment complex says it has found other apartments for all the displaced families.

Houston Fire Department District Chief Richard Pattison says there are no laws that require apartment complexes to provide fire extinguishers to their tenants but he urges everyone to have one on hand.

"An apartment is like a person's home, and we as a fire service can't go in there and say you've got to have a fire extinguisher. You can with smoke detectors," he said. "If you can get some training through a local education agency, the training is available."

High winds also may be to blame for a little grass fire that had erupted near the scene and spread to a parking lot fence where several cars are parked just on the other side. Firefighters were able to extinguish the flames, but it appeared that some of those cars were damaged from the fire and smoke.

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