A fire that destroyed a huge apartment complex in Houston yesterday took 2 1/2 hours to control, according to the AP.
Fire engulfed the complex, which was under construction, in flames and billowing black smoke.
The blaze required 5 alarms and hundreds of emergency workers to get it under control on Tuesday afternoon.
All of the construction workers are safe and accounted for, and only one man had to be rescued from a balcony. The rest were able to evacuate safely of their own accord.
Paul Johnston, COO for JLB Partners in Dallas who is building the complex, was shocked when he saw the remains of the complex his company was almost done building.
"This was a first for us, unfortunately," Johnston said. He did say that the building was insured. He also said the company's priority is "that everyone is safe, and we cooperate with the authorities."
Houston Fire Department spokesman Capt. Ruy Lozano said that the fire spread quickly due to the high winds which plague the area on a regular basis. The primary cause of the blaze is still under investigation, but there is some reasonable speculation on the part of the fire department, according to the Houston Chronicle.
"There was a report of a couple of guys working on the roof doing welding," said Houston Fire Department Deputy Chief Greg Lewis. "When our units arrived, there was a small fire and construction workers were attempting to put it out. There was sustained wind of 15 to 20 miles an hour, and it was a wind-driven fire."
Lash LaRue is a worker on the site. He was installing the building's phone system when he said he heard a loud crash, and then the ceiling collapsed and flames began to shoot through the hole in the ceiling.
"It was wicked.", he said. "All those months of work and it's just gone in seconds."
The fire began at about 12:30pm Tuesday and about an hour later, the blaze was upgraded to a five alarm call. Nearby property, including a historic cemetery, sustained minor water and smoke damage. Residents reportedly rushed to the area to check on property as the $50 million dollar luxury complex was reduced to ashes.
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