Official report released on deadly HFD hotel fire

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Report doesn't provide answers for survivors
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Family members of the firefighters killed in a massive hotel fire still want answers

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Problems with radio communications are among one of the findings of a 193 page report by a committee within the Houston Fire Department that investigated a fatal motel fire that killed four firefighters.

In May 2013, four firefighters lost their lives while battling a massive blaze at the Southwest Inn Motel. It was the deadliest accident in the history of the Houston Fire Department.

More than a year after the fire, the department has released its final report and recommendations so such a tragedy never happens again.

Firefighters Anne Sullivan and Robert Garner, Engineer Operator Robert Bebee, and Senior Captain Matthew Renaud were all killed while battling the fire at the Southwest Inn hotel in May 2013.

The report released today also detailed recommendations on improving communications within the fire department. The cause of the fire is still unknown, but the report did determine it started in the attic space above the kitchen. Investigators say there is no evidence that it was deliberately set. The report states that because of the high amount or radio traffic, firefighters were not getting through or were hearing partial messages. It also found burnt wiring on those radios contributed to the miscommunication.

Relatives of all four victims told Eyewitness News there was a meeting recently where officials refused to go over the details of the report with them. But as Anne's mother Mary Sullivan said, the report doesn't answer her questions as to why her daughter died.