Thursday, July 6, 2017

A massive abandoned warehouse fire knocked out electricity to nearly 2,000 customers in South Houston overnight, damaged an adjoining car dealership

Thursday, July 06, 2017 12:08PM
SOUTH HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A large fire engulfed a warehouse and several vehicles in a neighboring car dealership overnight in South Houston.

Flames were seen shooting out of the vacant building located in the 100 block of Avenue D, near Spencer Highway and Highway 3. The fire was first reported before 11:30 p.m. Wednesday.

At one point, a small explosion was seen on a transformer near the building.

According to the South Houston Fire Department, crews had issues with water pressure when they arrived. They were eventually able to knock down the fire with help from the Houston Fire Department.

The South Houston Fire Marshal said he is not sure if it's "suspicious" but has heard the stories of homeless people and kids breaking in. He did confirm the factory was an old orange juice production plant that has been closed for at least 15-20 years.

Arson dogs are expected to be back out.

Flames were also seen on vehicles parked in an adjoining car dealership.

The owner of Pasadena Auto Planet was there during the fire. His entire office with three rooms is charred, 12 vehicles have been damaged or destroyed and the mechanic shop is a total loss with a brand new $10,000 air compressor. Of the cars in the back area, two are customer cars that had the least damage.

The three cars that had serious damage were just fixed a couple of days ago. The Audi had a new radiator, the Dodge Ram had a new engine and the Ford F 350 was on the lift for a new motor. All are gone.

His main concern was no one was hurt. He did comment on the kids that had been hanging out in the area and the homeless who were sleeping around the old factory.

The fire affected CenterPoint Energy customers in the immediate area around the warehouse. According to the utility's website, 377 homes and businesses were without power. Restoration was expected by 10 a.m.


SOUTH HOUSTON, Texas – A massive warehouse fire knocked out electricity to nearly 2,000 customers in South Houston overnight.

The fire broke out at about 11:25 p.m. Wednesday in the 100 block of Spencer Highway, right next to Pasadena Auto Planet.

The used car lot is run by Eric Mejia and his family. Heat from the fire severely damaged about a dozen vehicles on the lot as well as the sales office.

“So we’re going to move our inventory to a different lot so we’re going to keep operating,” said Mejia.

A two story building, once an orange juice factory, caught fire and send a huge plume of smoke and flames into the skies over South Houston. The fire is now under control, but as of 9:30 a.m. there were still extensive power outages in the area.

CenterPoint's outage tracker says the estimated repair time is now 11:21 a.m. Thursday.

CenterPoint crews had to wait for the fire to be under control to access the affected power lines and a transformer that blew.

Firefighters from the City of Houston responded to assist after water issues delayed initial firefighting efforts.

There were no injuries, but the building was destroyed.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, but Fire Marshal Charles Stulder says, “It’s going to be a tough one to investigate.” Pasadena sent its arson dog which walked through the scene and failed to smell any accelerants.

So some samples of the debris will be sent off and tested for accelerants. Right now the cause is ruled “undetermined.”