Fire crews put out hot spots in rubble of luxury apartment complex that burned Tuesday

The investigation into what caused a 5-alarm fire that reduced a luxury apartment complex under construction into a pile of rubble is underway.
March 26, 2014 9:13:11 AM PDT
Fire investigators are sifting through the rubble to find what sparked yesterday's massive fire that burned a luxury apartment complex that was under construction to the ground.

Nearly 24 hours after the fire broke out, crews were still pouring water on the structure to make sure the fire does not re-ignite. They say the danger is not over.

The structure is unstable and they want to make sure that it collapses on itself and not someone or something else. As crews work to ensure the fire is out, they are also worried about its stability.

They've brought in bulldozers to begin its demolition.

The Houston Fire Department says this was the biggest blaze in the last decade. Over 200 firefighters responded. The cause is still unknown.

"Arson is still investigating," said Captain Ray Lozano with the Houston Fire Department. "They haven't given any indication it was arson, but they're doing an investigation to find out exactly what caused it."

A spokesperson for JLB Partners, which was building the 390-unit luxury apartment complex says the fire appears to have started on the north side of the building. He says there were 100 construction workers inside at the time the fire began to rage.

Eyewitness Larry Reader reported seeing a construction worker using a fire extinguisher trying to put out the flames at the beginning of the fire, and said that man then needed to be rescued from a balcony.

"It was frightening," Reader said. "In an hour and a half, it was unbelievable how fast it spread."

Political consultant Adam Harris was among those stuck in traffic. He shot video of the fire as the lone trapped worker was rescued.

"How amazing it is that nobody was hurt," Harris said. "Blows my mind. I actually talked to some of the workers and said, 'What happened?' And they said, 'We don't know. Everyone yelled fire, fire, fire and we got out.'"

Lozano adds that the fire started at one end of the construction site and quickly spread to the other side, with winds speeding the fast-moving flames along. The exact orgin location and cause haven't been determined yet.

More than 80 units were dispatched to the scene with more than 200 firefighters. That includes at least 14 ladder companies, 26 engine companies and five EMS transport units.

Firefighters sprayed nearby homes and buildings with water. The fire did not spread to any adjacent structures, but the blaze burned hot enough to melt plastic on cars parked nearby.

The building is owned by JLB Apartments based in Dallas.

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