Massive blaze destroys residential building under construction in Montrose

Published On: Mar 25 2014 12:54:28 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 26 2014 11:51:05 AM CDT

March 26, 2014: Firefighters are still on the scene of a massive fire that destroyed an apartment complex under construction. Courtney Gilmore reports.

HOUSTON -

Firefighters are continuing to put out hot spots Wednesday morning after a 5-alarm fire burned down a residential building under construction in the Montrose area.

Houston firefighters responded to the blaze at around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday in the 2400 block of West Dallas and Marconi. A large portion of the high-rise structure was on fire.

Flames and smoke could be seen from miles away.

Several fire units and emergency crews were on the scene, including nearly 200 emergency personnel. HFD called for a fifth alarm shortly before 1:30 p.m.

Captain Ruy Lozano told Local 2 one construction worker had to be rescued from the third floor of the structure.

There were no reported injuries, according to the fire department.

Lozano said firefighters worked to contain the blaze, before the imminent collapse because the fire suppression systems were not yet in place for the under-construction building.

Traffic in the area near downtown Houston was congested during the blaze and authorities urged motorists to stay away from the area as a safety precaution.

Police have closed the intersection of Montrose Boulevard at Dallas Street while emergency crews are still on scene Wednesday morning.

"Our goal at this point because there was so much fire wasn't really to extinguish as much as it was to contain to the building of origin. Don't let the surrounding communities be affected. The construction project that was on fire, it's a loss. Let's not let anything else get lost," said Capt. Ruy Lozano.

Houston ISD said five schools located near the fire, including Wilson Montessori, Wharton Dual Language Academy K-8, Gregory-Lincoln Education Center, Carnegie Vanguard High School and High School for Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice., were not in any danger Tuesday afternoon. Officials at each school worked to monitor students with asthma. 

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PHOTOS: Huge building fire near downtown

Local 2 Chief Meteorologist Frank Billingsley says the 20-25 mph wind gusts helped fuel the fire. The conditions made firefighting more difficult. 

Adding to the wind effect is the fact that the fire itself created its own wind currents, with the extreme heat generating strong updrafts, according to Local 2 Meteorologist Eric Braate. He added that the relative humidity is very low, which hindered firefighting. With very little moisture in the air, the fire burned much more quickly than it would on a day with high humidity.

No word yet on what started the blaze, but the Houston Fire Department says the fire is under investigation.

The nearly 400-unit complex was not a welcome addition to the neighborhood for some. They say it's uncomfortably close to the historic Magnolia Cemetery, founded in 1884, and the permanent home to big Houston names like Wortham, Halliburton, Bammel and Telge.

Here's how the fire is being covered on social media:

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