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Fire destroys strip center in Aldine area

The two-alarm blaze is being blamed on an electrical problem
February 4, 2014 11:30:21 AM PST
Flames ripped through a north Houston strip mall early this morning, destroying several businesses. Several fire departments responded to the fire that broke out shortly 3am. Crews didn't have easy access to water and had to have it brought in.

The strip center was home to a liquor store, convenience store and a restaurant. Jay Patel owns the property.

"We have been doing business a long time and our customers, all of our customers, are good customers," said Patel. "It's sad. It is sad."

A call from a customer alerted Patel to the fire. With the Aldine Fire Department just across the street, the response was almost immediate, but the fire marshal says wind helped the flames to spread. The fire started in a corner where the electrical meter is located.

Customers can't believe it's all gone.

"We use the store for everything, as far as putting fuel to go out of town for the rigs," said Michael Garza, who is both a customer and owner of a neighboring business. "Now we're going to figure out what we're going to do as far as fuel for the next probably couple of months."

Since there are no hydrants nearby, a drop pool was used to give firefighters access to a constant water supply. In all, seven departments responded.

A Needham fire truck never made it there. It was headed to the fire eastbound on Aldine-Bender when a Suburban crossing on Imperial Valley collided with it. Police say the driver, Miranda Valderas, may not have noticed the lights and sirens.

Her husband says his daughter called him to say that her mother had been hit. His wife was alert and talking to paramedics when she was taken to the hospital.

Back at the fire scene, Patel takes comfort in the fact that no lives were lost.

"On that side, God is on our side that no one got hurt, you know," he said.

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