Shortly after three o’clock this morning, the Houston Fire Department was dispatched to a fire at the Woodchase Apartments, located at 2900 South Gessner Rd. near High Meadow Blvd., on the city’s southwest side. The fire apparently began in an automobile, spread to several others, then caught fire to several residential units located directly above the parking spaces. Flames spread southward between floors along one of the buildings and as it reached the ceiling began to reverse Northward with the prevailing wind. The intense heat and flames overlapped the parking area and ignited one building to the west and one building to the north side of where it all began.
The fire and smoke prompted an evacuation of hundreds of residents during the pre-dawn hours. There were 28 units destroyed, five units that suffered major damage and one unit with minor damage. 50 units had enough smoke in them to temporarily prevent residents from inhabiting them, however, residents should be able to return to those units later today. Apartment complex managers indicated they had enough vacancies to provide for those displaced by the fire. American Red Cross Volunteers were on scene to assist with some immediate food, clothing and other needs.
More than 250 firefighters and 60 apparatus were called to assist in fighting the fire that went to four alarms approximately 1 hour and fifteen minutes after it began. The configuration of the complex and limited plugs in the area challenged the ability to get engines and hoses into the affected area from all sides. Three tower trucks were dispatched to provide water from above the complex. One firefighter suffered from a moderate injury to his hand. There were no other reported injuries.
The fire was tapped out at 7:56 a.m.
Arson investigators took statements from witnesses. No preliminary indication has been given as to the cause of the fire.