Three alarm fire at Galleria area garage

HOUSTON With smoke billowing from the parking garage, there was little employees at the next door San Felipe Plaza could do except hope the fire didn't spread beyond the seventh floor.

"We heard a lot of explosions," said Michael Vo. "Especially when you work in a building like this, that high, you start hearing about it so everybody just came down worried about it."

Firefighters had to scramble up seven floors. At the same time, ladders were extended with hoses ready to pump much needed water.

Dana Mason, who was trapped by the fire, recalled, "(The smoke) was so thick you couldn't see that floor at all."

Mason was trapped one floor above, on the eighth floor. He couldn't see until a firefighter found him and led him to safety.

"It was a little bit scary," he said. "You couldn't see where you were going. The stairwell was dark. The firefighter had a flashlight but he was ahead of me, so yes, it was scary."

Firefighters searched the entire garage for other people, but no one was found. The garage is surrounded by several highly populated buildings, including Rogers Middle School across the street. Firefighters called for three alarms for extra manpower attacking the fire from the east and west sides of the garage.

"The fire has been labor intensive based on units having to carry hose up seven stories," said Chief Kevin Alexander with the Houston Fire Department. "They have established a water supply through the stand pipe, and a secondary water supply through the ladder pipe on the east side of the fire."

With no one allowed into the garage, people like Marque Amos had to find another way home.

"I came up here just to pick up my laptop to work from home, because I have a sick son," he said. "Then I got trapped in the building from the car fire in the garage, so I have a friend picking us up."

Arson investigators are working to determine the cause of the fire. Structural engineers inspected the building as well.

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