Bystander alerts crews at different scene to fire at old church in NW Harris Co., officials say

Chaz Miller Image
Wednesday, March 22, 2023
Bystander alerts crews to large fire at former church in NW Harris Co.
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SkyEye video shows a large fire that engulfed a former church in northwest Harris County.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- SkyEye was over the scene of a large fire that engulfed a former church on West Montgomery Road in northwest Harris County on Wednesday morning, but ABC13 has learned that wasn't the only fire crews had to tackle on that same block at the same time.

The Harris County Fire Marshal's Office said that it all started at about 6:11 a.m. when firefighters responded to a call at a vacant convenience store at 11515 Highway 249.

The rear of that store is directly across the street from the former church, located in the 11500 block of West Montgomery Road.

"Once they got on scene and started fighting that fire, a bystander came over and told them the church across the street was actually on fire, as well," Brandi Duams, of the Harris County Fire Marshal's Office, said.

Nine fire departments and at least 60 personnel responded to the fire. According to authorities, they had to use a heavy water shuttle to knock out the flames and hot spots because no fire hydrants were in the area.

Officials say that many departments and firefighters were needed as a result of the lack of hydrants, as opposed to the sizes of the fires.

"Tankers can only hold so much water, so as they're getting rid of water, we're bringing other tankers in to start filling up so they can go ahead and use that water to continue fighting the fire," Dumas explained.

The former church was in the middle of being renovated into a commercial building, so it wasn't immediately known who currently owned the structure.

The status of the vacant convenience store is unknown, and investigators are looking into both fires to see if they're related or if they were the result of criminal activity.

The fires were near Klein Intermediate and Nitsch Elementary Schools, but classes went on at both campuses as scheduled.

There were no injuries reported from either scene.

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