Friday, May 31, 2013

Mayor: "Worst Day in History of Houston Fire Department"

Southwest Inn burns in Houston, TX Image: KPRC-Local2. REUTERS
May 31, 2013 - Four Houston fire fighters died this afternoon while trying extinguish a huge hotel fire. One of the firefighters killed in the blaze is female. Six others were hospitalized with injuries, says ABC-13 Houston, two in critical condition. More than 100 firefighters responded to the fire. Everyone in the burning Southwest Inn Hotel got out safely. The fire is thought to have started in an adjacent vegetarian restaurant. The hotel is located on the Southwest freeway (59).

"Today will go down as the worst day in history of the Houston fire department," Houston Mayor Annise Parker said. "The most loss of life ever." The five-alarm fire started in  a restaurant this afternoon along U.S. 59 in southwest Houston, according to the mayor's office.

"Witnesses tell Eyewitness News [ABC13 Houston] the fire began in a restaurant, although that has not been confirmed with officials. All patrons and employees of the restaurant reportedly got out safely. The roof of the building has collapsed in areas. The structure houses a sports bar as well."

The cause of the fire is unknown. The Houston Chronicle reports that an arson explosive task force is investigating the fire, according to a spokeswoman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

The following statement was released by Jeff Caynon, president of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association:

"Houston firefighters mourn the loss of our three brothers and our sister and will forever honor their sacrifices. Our association and the International Association of Fire Fighters are monitoring the conditions of the six injured firefighters and will be assisting them and their families in every way possible. This tragedy underscores the inherent dangers of our profession. Please keep Houston firefighters in your thoughts and prayers." (Source: United Firefighters Facebook page)