Three-alarm fire damages 20 units at complex

March 13, 2011 6:46:58 AM PDT
A three-alarm fire at a southwest Houston apartment complex Saturday left half a dozen families homeless.

It happened at the complex near the intersection of Richmond and Fondren. More than 90 firefighters were called to the fire.

Early Saturday evening, Marco Decatur was about to spend his third night at his new apartment.

"I saw police so out of curiosity, I started looking and that's when I seen smoke so I came out," he said.

But it didn't take long for the smoke to turn into flames, breaking through the roof of an apartment building undergoing remodeling.

"That's been our problem, getting in between the roofs to get to the fire," HFD Assistant Chief David Almaguer said.

The burning tar contributed to the smoke. To get water on the fire, crews had to cut holes in the ceilings and in the roofs, which allowed oxygen in and fed the flames for a time.

Twenty units at the building were damaged by fire, water or smoke. No one was injured but it was a reminder.

"Tonight is daylight saving time, and we've been telling everybody this is the day you're supposed to change out the battery in your smoke detector," said Almaguer. " This is the perfect example because some of people may not have been in the attic. You won't see, hear or smell the fire. The smoke detector will."