In an instant or close to it, a group of firefighters who had put themselves in deliberate jeopardy out of concern that people might be trapped inside the Southwest Inn were buried in burning debris. The precise series of events is at the heart of an investigation to be led by ATF specialists, who arrived at the scene later in the day. But the gist of it was clear in seconds.
“We had an early and quick catastrophic failure of the roof,” Garrison said. “There’s no way that I would have anticipated that we would lose four firefighters. I want to tell the residents of Houston their firefighters acted absolutely courageously today, that there was probably a dozen acts of heroism on that scene.”
The fire broke out not terribly far from home, although the first I got of this was a photo from fellow Sharpstown-onian Stace Medellin’s facebook page. To say the least, it added a little to the homesickness of of being stuck in Austin for a few more days. Two of the firefighters who lost their lives were from Sharpstown’s Station 51, with the other two from Station 68, also in SW Houston. Just catching some of the raw footage online yesterday, it definitely looked like it would have been a miracle to get out of that fire without losing a life. I know that Station 51 is a particular point of pride for many of the folks I know in Sharpstown, so there’s definitely no shortage of grieving in the neighborhood. My prayers and thoughts go out to those who lost loved ones in this event, as well as those still battling injuries.
From the folks at the Houston Fire Department: If you feel compelled to help the families of our fallen brothers and sisters, please donate here.
Strangely enough, I managed to snap a pic during my last visit home. I’d intended this for posting on the Empty Lot Primary blog due to the Southwestern Inn hosting a political campaign sign that nobody could see unless they were going the wrong way on the feeder road. Definitely a happier time.
UPDATE: Now there’s this …
A memorial service for the firefighters killed in the Southwest Inn fire is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday at Reliant Stadium. #KHOU
— KHOU 11 News Houston (@KHOU) June 1, 2013