HOUSTON—Jay Patel was consoling his tenants on Tuesday after an early-morning fire at a strip center in north Harris County.
“They’re crying, literally crying,” he said.
They lost a liquor store, a convenience store and a taqueria, which were all in the same strip center at Aldine Bender Road and Ormel Street.
Patel once worked there too, up until a fateful morning five years ago when an armed robber left him for dead.
“I was in the hospital for a month,” he said. “They shot me in the neck.”
But now, investigators are blaming an electrical spark. They also believe a power outage at the time of the fire may have kept a fire station, just across the street, from realizing what was happening.
Investigators say water was also in short supply when battling the blaze. As some nearby departments scrambled to bring it, one fire truck struck a pickup near Imperial Valley and sent its driver to the hospital.
It was a difficult day all around. Patel says he has insurance and plans to rebuild as soon as he can.