HOUSTON (Houston Chronicle) - Four firefighters died in a five-alarm blaze that broke out at a restaurant Friday afternoon along U.S. 59 in southwest Houston, according to the mayor's office.
STATter911: Four Firefighters Confirmed Killed in Hotel Fire
Houston Fire Department Press Release:
The Houston Fire Department is saddened and deeply regrets to list the following members who gave the ultimate sacrifice from a fire in Southwest Houston this afternoon:
Captain EMT Matthew Renaud (35) of Engine 68. He began his career with the Houston Fire Department in October of 2001 and in addition to Fire Station 68, has served out of stations 51, 39, 83, 73, 37, 60 and 35.
Engineer Operator EMT Robert Bebee (41) of Station 51. He began his career with the Houston Fire Department in August of 2001 and in addition to Fire Station 51, has served out of Stations 37, 40, 10 and 48.
Firefighter EMT Robert Garner (29) of Station 68. He began his career with the Houston Fire Department in October of 2010 and has served out of Fire Station 68 since.
Probationary Firefighter Anne Sullivan (24) of Station 68. She graduated from Houston Fire Department Academy this past April and was assigned to Fire Station 68.
The Houston Fire Department has never seen four firefighters pass away from the same incident in the history of the department. In 1929, three firefighters passed away after their Engine was broadsided by a train.
Five firefighters were initially transported to the hospital for a range of injures from heat exhaustion to a critical injuries.
Our deepest thoughts and prayers are with not only those friends and family of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice today but also those who were injured and all members of our department.
"I can confirm four firefighters have passed away, and we cannot release their names at this juncture," said HFD Chief Terry Garrison, who was meeting with families of the fallen.
Five firefighters were also reported injured, two critically, while fighting the blaze.
Initial reports say several firefighters suffered heat exhaustion and one firefighter injured his leg. Some were reported missing but have since been located.
The fire broke out at Bhojan Restaurant at 6855 Southwest Freeway at about 12:09 p.m. and engulfed the neighboring Southwest Inn along the Southwest Freeway near Hornwood, according to the Houston Fire Department. The flames also burned a sports bar and disco.
Jeff Caynon, president of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association, said he understood from field reports that the firefighters had been injured in a roof collapse.
"The roof collapsed. I don't know if that was folks outside next to the structure or inside when it collapsed, but the collapse is going to be the cause," Caynon said.
Martha Lopez, the front desk clerk at the Southwest Inn said a restaurant employee ran into the hotel saying a fire had started in the restaurant. The two began knocking on doors and windows telling guests to get out of the hotel.
Lopez said the hotel can accommodate 100 guests and had 45 registered at the time of the fire.
One of the guests, Sammy Sewell, 29, had been staying at the hotel for last six months. He said he walked out of his room and heard yelling.
He turned a corner, saw three women screaming and running at him down a hallway and then heard three blasts.
"Next thing you know, it was 'boom!' It scared the crap out of me. I mean, it sounded like a cannon going off. That's how loud it was," Sewell said. "I could have sworn it picked this building up and put it back down."
It was unclear what sparked the blaze.
Caynon said being a firefighter "is a hazardous job from the time we respond to the time we make it on location, whether it's a medical call all the way up to and including fires. There are hazardous all along the way, and there are a lot of variables when a structure is on fire."
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