Two-alarm fire at famed restaurant

HOUSTON [IMAGES: See images from scene]

A two-alarm fire is burning at Brennan's restaurant on Smith. Two people were taken to Memorial Hermann Hospital suffering from burns. The victims are a man and a 4-year-old girl who were in the restaurant. The girl is in critical condition, with burns over 50 percent of her body. Her father is also in critical condition and reportedly having difficulty breathing. He suffered burns on his face when he rushed in to save the girl.

The owner, who was in tears at the scene, said some family members and friends were taking refuge from Hurricane Ike in the restaurant, a solid brick building.

Smoke continues to pour from the building. Flames are visible on the second floor. The wind-whipped blaze appears to be growing. Firefighters have been forced to move into defensive mode, as the burning building is unsafe to enter. The entire second floor is engulfed in flames. It appears the building will be a total loss.

The cause of the fire is not known at this time. There is speculation that it may have been started by a transformer explosion.

Brennan's has been a Houston fixture for nearly 40 years, known especially for its brunch. It was featured in the film "Terms of Endearment."

After Hurricane Katrina, many of the owner's New Orleans employees were evacuated to Houston, where they worked at Brennan's Houston restaurant.

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