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3-Alarm Fire in Katy Destroys Apartment Complex Construction Site


October 14, 2020

By Jennifer Miko

Flames and smoke could be seen for miles around Katy this morning as firefighters fought to put out a large blaze. Crews responded to a three-alarm fire at a construction site at the San Tierra Apartments just north of I-10, off of Grand Parkway.

Photo: Harris County Emergency Services District No. 48

Jason Tharp, Division Chief of Community Risk with the Harris County Emergency Services District No. 48, said the first call came in at 6:18 this morning. The caller reported an outside fire at the San Tierra Apartments at 1616 Partnership Way in Katy. About 30 seconds later, multiple calls reported the same fire. Within two minutes, a crew was dispatched.

Another caller reported the whole fourth floor of the complex was on fire. Dispatch quickly alerted local crews to a “full-response for a structure fire.”

Eight crews provided support, including the Harris County ESD No. 48, Westlake Volunteer Fire Department, Willowfork, Katy, Cy-Fair, and Houston Fire Departments, the Waller-Harris EMS #200, and the Harris Country Fire Marshal.

Fire Presented Many Complications

Tharp described the scene as a “defensive fire coming from the fourth floor.” For the safety of the crews, they had to fight the fire from the outside, utilizing ladder trucks too.

In addition to the fast-growing fire, Tharp said the crews struggled with low water pressure to fight the blaze. They also had to contain multiple grass fires that erupted from falling debris. A fueling station for heavy-duty equipment caught fire too but was secured to its own area.

Ladder trucks were set up to protect the homes of the people living in the nearby apartment complex. The heat from the blaze was so intense, though, that it shattered one resident’s window and cracked several other residents’ windows.

Although many hot spots still needed to be extinguished, the fire was considered “under control” by 9:48 a.m.

No citizens were injured however, one firefighter was evaluated for heat-related issues.

A special crew was called to the site to check the safety of the remaining scaffolding so that it won’t collapse. Tharp estimates it could take another four hours to get the hot spots under control.

Extensive Losses from Fire

Sueba Construction, Inc., of Houston, reported their $30 million project was a total loss. The damaged site totaled 246,000 square feet with eight buildings, including two large 4-four-story buildings and six garage structures. Several vehicles on the property were also damaged.

K-9 units are at the scene to search for possible accelerants. The Harris County Fire Marshal will be investigating the cause of the fire.


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