Two-alarm fire breaks out at strip mall in Museum District

A two-alarm fire in the Museum District destroyed or damaged several businesses inside a strip center (Marvin Suggs)
August 3, 2013 5:47:22 AM PDT
Flames ripped through several businesses early this morning in the Museum District as firefighters struggled to get a handle on the blaze.

The fire broke out around 2am and kept Houston firefighters busy for several hours. It destroyed multiple businesses in a strip center before crews could get it out. And now, investigators are looking into what may have sparked it.

The two-alarm fire tore through three businesses in the 1500 block of Blodgett near Crawford.

"The first arriving companies discovered heavy smoke exiting from the roof," said Fernando Herrera with the Houston Fire Department. "Within a short time, fire exited also through the roof."

In a matter of minutes, the washateria was engulfed in flames. Firefighters scrambling to keep up called for backup.

"We cut off the utilities for safety," said Herrera. "We had plenty of exits and we finally, at one point, brought our firefighters out to a defensive position because the conditions of the structure appeared to be weakening."

"Seemed like it got out of control there for a little bit," said witness Bob Stevenson. "Eventually, the roof caved in."

The fire spread quickly to two other businesses in the shopping center.

"When I got here, it looked like the Laundromat was totally consumed and the fire was headed toward the east," said business owner Matt Scheiner.

Scheiner owns an art gallery in the shopping center and came to check on his business.

"I see smoke in my place," he said. "Hope there's no water damage or severe smoke damage."

It took firefighters more than an hour to get the flames under control, enough time for the fire to do extensive damage.

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