Fire near Katy Asian Town destroys unfinished apartment complex

By R. Hans Miller | News Editor
Posted 10/14/20

Harris Count Emergency Services District 48 fire crews responded to a call reporting a fire at 6:18 a.m. this morning indicating that the San Tierra apartment complex at 1818 Partnership Way, Katy …

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Fire near Katy Asian Town destroys unfinished apartment complex

Posted

Update Oct. 14 at 12:01 p.m: Crews are expected to remain on-scene for another 4-6 hours at the San Tierra Apartments site which Sueba Construction, Inc., has informed them consisted of two four-story apartment complexes totalling 246,000 square feet and six rows of separate garages. The expected value of the property is about $30 million. 

Crews are currently spraying fire-retardant foam on the fire and are awaiting an assessment of the surrounding scaffolding before fire marshals can begin their investigation which may take some time.

Originally posted Oct. 14 at 11:32 a.m.: Harris County Emergency Services District 48 fire crews responded to a call reporting a fire at 6:18 a.m. this morning indicating that the San Tierra apartment complex at 1818 Partnership Way, Katy was ablaze.

“Thirty seconds later, we had multiple callers and (the fire) was upgraded to a full structure fire. The calling party reported black smoke from the construction site next door (to the San Remo Apartments),” said HCESD 48 Division Chief of Community Risk Reduction and Public Information Officer Jason Tharp. “Crews responding from the station could see the column from the station (on Morton Road).”

At 6:28, a second alarm was set due to rapid growth of the fire and aerial trucks were set up to help control the flames which callers reported seemed to have started in the westernmost building on the fourth floor. The large trucks which pump water from ladder mounts were set up on Partnership Way initially, then moved in to fight fire at a second building in the complex, Tharp said.

At about that time, the department reached out to the local municipal utility district to increase water pressure to the two aerial firefighting apparatus to ensure they could pump water onto the fire quickly, Tharp said.

Shortly after 7 a.m. the second building was fully involved and crews worked to get back to that area to keep the fires from spreading into the surrounding area. However, by 7:34 a.m., grass fires had occurred nearby due to the intense heat and booster trucks – smaller, more mobile fire trucks designed to deal with grass fires and similar small blazes – were deployed to deal with the smaller, tertiary fires, Tharp said.

As the situation developed, HCESD 48 was joined by Waller Harris ESD 200, Westlake, Willowfork, city of Katy, Houston and Cy-Fair fire departments in responding to the fire. EMT and hazmat crews as well as the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office were on hand in case they were needed as well. Harris County Sheriff's Office deputies were at the scene to help with traffic control and manage civilians observing the fire.

Those mutual aid departments were deployed into the San Remo complex to help keep residents there safe, Tharp said.

“The radiant heat the building was putting off was breaking windows for (the San Remo) apartment complex,” Tharp said. “We had Houston (Fire Department) show up for mutual aid and we set them up in (San Remo) to protect those from exposure.”

At about 8 a.m., a firefighter from another department that had come to assist HCESD 48 was sent to Memorial Hermann Katy with heat exhaustion, Tharp said. That firefighter is now in good health and no other injuries have been reported, including among the construction crew.

“From what I understood from some of the workers that were showing up, nobody was here yet. … So, it was early enough I don’t believe anybody was on scene,” Tharp said.

A representative from Sueba Construction, Inc., the builder at the site, said the company does not have any statement on the fire at this time because the situation is still developing.

Tharp said no cause for the fire was available this morning and the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office would need to conduct an investigation to determine the cause of the fire, Tharp said. Electricity had not been connected to the site yet and only a generator was available at the scene, he added.

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