HARRIS COUNTY, Texas – At least two dozen people were injured Thursday when a second-floor garage apartment collapsed during a religious event held at a home in Katy.
The West I-10 Volunteer Fire Department and Houston firefighters responded to Park Mill at Park Rush shortly before 1 p.m. Thursday.
Houston Fire Department Captain Ruy Lozano said at least 125 people had gathered for the celebration when the incident occurred. Some of the people were in a room above a detached garage when the flooring gave way and collapsed into the garage below.
“Everyone was busy praying and it just collapsed,” one witness said.
Another witness said he heard a large “boom.”
“Some of the ladies fell down first,” Arund Kamdar said.
Witnesses said the second floor fell, making a pancake layer onto the first floor.
“My wife was also inside, underneath, she was at the bottom,” Kamdar said.
Kamdar said he and seven other men rushed in to try to hold up what they could.
“Four or five people gathered to take the ladies out one-by-one,” Kamdar said.
In all, 50 people were taken to hospitals. Three people suffered “urgent” but not critical injuries, while the others mostly suffered minor injuries, Lozano said.
The youngest patient was reportedly 8 years old, firefighters told KHOU 11 News.
Views from Air 11 showed several people being treated outside the evacuated home. More than a dozen ambulances responded to the scene. Firefighters and emergency crews treated people outside in a makeshift triage area set up in the front yards of nearby homes.
The collapse was not visible from outside the garage, but one exterior wall showed signs of rippling or buckling. Investigators said the apartment unit above the garage is designed to only hold about six people and there were at least 40 people inside when the collapse happened.
The people gathered were part of the Indian religion Jainism, one of the four major religions in that country. Most of the individuals would not talk to KHOU 11 News, but those who remained on the scene uninjured seemed remarkably calm.
“This is a good training for all of us to remember to stay centered and calm no matter what happens in your environment,” one of the witnesses said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.