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Seven townhomes destroyed in two-alarm Galleria-area blaze

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Flames shooting from roofs and dozens of firefighters on scene were what some residents in west Houston awoke to early Sunday.

Several people living in Briarwest Townhomes on Winrock near the Houston Galleria are now looking for another place to live after their homes were gutted by a two-alarm blaze.

A seemingly trivial discovery was the lone bright spot in Molly Regan's day.

"I guess when you've lost everything, if you can get even one thing remaining, it's hope," she said.

A few bottles of fine wine are all that's left of her townhome -- one of seven units destroyed in a two-alarm fire that started around 2am.

"I woke up and the garage in the back was just a complete inferno, and I grabbed my cat. We got out and started knocking on all the neighbors' doors," Regan said.

"It was just in a couple units, and then it spread to the whole thing," neighbor Russell Goff said. "The fire department got here. It was so hot they couldn't even go into it."

Crews pulled a second alarm immediately because the flames were so intense, shooting through the roof. It took 60 firefighters to tame the flames.

Firefighters stopped the blaze from spreading to other buildings in the complex, but seven units in the building where the fire started were destroyed. It's hard to tell from the outside, but the damaged units were completely gutted.

"Absolute devastation," Regan said. "It's crazy. I can't even put it into words."

Firefighters say a couple of tenants were momentarily trapped inside, but they made it out safely. The only casualties were pets. Regan's neighbor lost two dogs who were overcome by smoke.

The units consumed by fire are most likely a total loss, officials said.

"This whole building will probably be torn down. The seven units altogether," Houston Fire Department District 28 Chief Bob Schlieter said.

"You never think something like this is going to happen to you," Regan said. "Just to know that all you have are the clothes on your back; it's surreal."

The Red Cross is helping those families who lost their homes. The fire department is still investigating the cause of the fire. They believe it was accidental and say it looks like it may have started in the garage of one of the units.

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