Fire breaks out at downtown Houston high rise

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Dozens of firefighters responded to a high rise fire in downtown Houston Tuesday night.

The call came in around 7:30pm about a fire at Two Houston Center on Fannin and McKinney. The fire was in the northeast corner of the 16th floor. Upon entry onto that floor, firefighters reported what they call 'heavy fire conditions.' They quickly pulled a third alarm, primarily for procedural reasons.

"For this one, everything's 16 floors above the ground, so everything we take, we carry up," said Houston Fire Department District Chief Tommy Dowdy. "We'll capture some elevators and go two floors below the fire, but we never go to the fire floor because of the danger of the elevator stopping on the fire floor. Everything that's got to be up there has got to be hand carried, so it takes a lot of resources."

Another challenge in these high rise fires is the intense heat that has nowhere to go in enclosed buildings. Firefighters have been getting people out of the building down stairwells. One of the other issues they're dealing with is the smoke. It's going to take a while to get the smoke out because in an enclosed building, the only way to get rid of the smoke is through the air conditioning or ventilation system.

The fire broke out after usual business hours, but there were some working late. Some people were shocked to return from their dinner break to find their building on fire and several fire trucks on the scene.

"It's a frightening sight when you come back to the office at this time of night and the entire downtown is blocked off," said Jim Ware with Sheehy, Serpe and Ware.

"I'm concerned about people in my firm who might still be there working and from a selfish perspective, I'm worried about my car," added Tony Wilson with Sheehy, Serpe and Ware.

The good news is that there were no injuries. Right now, we don't know the cause of the fire.

If you do business at Two Houston Center, you can call 1-800-421-4227, for more information about the status of the floors damaged by last night's fire.
(Copyright © 2007, KTRK-TV)

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