HOUSTON -- Fire destroyed two businesses and damaged several others southwest of downtown Houston early Friday. It took nearly 100 firefighters to get things under control.
Roaring flames burned through the ceiling and roof of a strip center in the 1500 block of Blodgett Street at La Branch Street around 2:30 a.m.
“It looks like everything is lost,” said Clarence Carrington, a neighbor.
Fire raged behind windows. Chirping alarms woke neighbors three blocks away.
“It was a pretty violent fire,” said Matt Scheiner, owner of Gallery Jatad, one of six businesses in the strip center.
It took multiple companies of firefighters an hour to contain the blaze.
“At that point (I) kind of figured it was pretty bad,” said Victor Rojas, another business owner.
The fire destroyed a laundromat and natural hair salon. Right next door, Rojas planned to open his furniture store Saturday.
“(Now) I’m not sure what we’re going to do with it at this point,” Rojas said.
“The first thought is I’m happy no one is hurt,” Scheiner said.
His art gallery opened less than two months ago. It took Scheiner and his wife 10 years of planning and nine months of prepping to make their dream come true, but it only took a few minutes for smoke to cloud their gallery’s future.
“We were supposed to have an opening (Saturday) for an artist from Delaware named Oscar Guerra,” Scheiner said. “I don’t know if that’s going to happen.”
What will happen is a complete investigation, arson police said. However, for two businesses gone and four others damaged, answers cannot fix everything.
The cause remains under investigation. They are looking into the possibility that it was an electrical fire that began in either the hair salon or the laundromat.