LIBERTY COUNTY, Texas A large fire destroyed a flea market northeast of Houston early Monday morning.
According to Capt. Ken DeFoor with the Liberty County Sheriff s Office, the fire was reported shortly before 3 a.m. along Highway 59 and CR 377.
Fire units from Cleveland, Montgomery County, Tarkington, New Caney and Splendora Fire Departments joined in to help battle the blaze.
It wasn t immediately clear how the fire started, but officials said the market s owner indicated he had electrical problems in the building over the weekend. He stated the power to the building had been cut off, however.
You never expect this, said flea market owner Gary Millican. It s like losing a loved one. You go to bed, and everyone s OK, and at night it crashes in on you. They re just really heartbroken.
The fire destroyed 30 individual shops. For some of the vendors, this is simply a means of supplementing income. For others, though, it s a lifeline, and everything is gone.
I m on Social Security, said Vern Jones. This was helping me make a little extra.
This was their job. This was what they did on weekends, said fellow vendor Guy Poindexter, to pay their bills, pay their house notes and make their ends meet. This is how they survived. It s bad. It s gone for them. It s going to be hard to recoup when everything you had to recoup is in ashes now.
The flea market, which has 160 vendors, will continue to stay open on weekends. Repairs to the damaged stores are expected to be completed in three weeks.
Liberty County Fire Marshal Jim Wilson will investigate the cause of the blaze.
No injuries were reported.