Massive 5-alarm fire destroys entire apartment complex in Montrose

HOUSTON (KHOU) – An entire apartment complex was gutted when a roaring fire raced through it on West Dallas in Montrose Tuesday afternoon. The fire started at 12:30 p.m. and quickly went to five alarms as the flames spread out of control.

There is no word on injuries at this time, but a construction worker was rescued from the third floor, according to HFD.

Employees at a nearby high-rise say a construction worker tried to use a fire extinguisher to put out the flames, but the fire suddenly began spreading across the roof. They watched in horror as the man looked desperately for a way to get down.

"The firemen did rescue him, but he did have to drop down a floor as the entire top floor started burning," the employee said in an email. She didn't want to give her name.

At one point, the worker dangled periously from a third floor windowsill.

"Once he was on the ladder, a section of the building collapsed and was very close to hitting the ladder," the witness said.

Within 20 minutes after blaze broke out, the flames had spread through the entire complex, which was under construction near the Montrose intersection.

"It is very hot. Imagine how tough it is for the firefighters in heavy gear battling this fire," said KHOU 11 News reporter Marcelino Benito, who was at the scene.

The objective is to contain the flames and stop them from spreading to nearby structures, said HFD spokesman Rick Flanagan.

The American General building was evacuated as a precaution.

The wind created another challenge for some 200 firefighters who battled the flames.

"This couldn't have happened on a worse day," said KHOU 11 News Meteorologist Brooks Garner. "The wind is moving from the northwest at 15 mph, with gusts over 20 mph."

West Dallas is closed at Montrose and traffic on nearby streets was at a standstill.

The fire appeared to be mostly contained by 2 p.m. 

Fire crews stayed on the scene to put out the last stubborn flames and to monitor hot spots.

This is the same complex KHOU 11 News reported on Monday night because it was built a few feet away from a historic cemetery. Magnolia Cemetery has been there since 1884.

The centuries-old headstones include familiar names in Houston history, including Bammel, Halliburton, Wortham and Telge.

We have several crews on the scene. Check back for more on this developing story.


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