The Houston Fire Department was dispatched to a building on fire just before 6:30 p.m., yesterday, May 4, 2011, in the 5700 block of Broom in northeast Houston. Firefighters arrived within four minutes and found heavy fire on the outside of the building. Hazmat was requested because the building involved was a commercial roofing company, and the involved materials were unknown. Firefighters discovered two 55 gallon drums of used motor oil involved in the fire. Due to run-off concerns, the fire department blocked the storm drain to prevent contamination. Twenty HFD units and more than 50 personnel responded to the fire which was brought under control just after 7 p.m.
Two of the business' employees had been working with a cutting torch on the outside of the building and saw sparks flying from the cutting operation, but thought they had extinguished all of the sparks and embers when they shut down the operation. Firefighters on-scene determined that it was likely accidental, with something smoldering that ignited the used motor oil that was near the area were the cutting torch was being used.
The fire caused about $35,000 in estimated structural damage and est. $75,000 in content damage.