Massive fire damages veteran housing complex in Midtown
HOUSTON – Military veterans, some of whom are disabled, said the fire alarms did not go off Tuesday morning during a two-alarm fire at their Midtown apartment complex.
The fire was reported around 11:50 a.m. at Travis Street Plaza apartments in the 4000 block of Travis Street, near Richmond Avenue.
Residents said they heard an explosion, which investigators believe came from the rooftop air-conditioning unit.
But they had no idea of the danger they were in because no alarms or sprinklers went off.
"Somebody knocked on the door and said there's a fire. I said you gotta be kidding. The alarm didn't go off. They said it's a fire," said Harry McGinnis, who relies on a walker.
McGinnis and some other disabled veterans had to be carried down several flights of stairs by fellow residents or firefighters. Everyone made it out safely and there were no reports of injuries.
Houston Fire Chief Samuel Pena said he was looking into the reports of malfunctioning fire safety equipment.
"Of course it concerns me, we're going to have an inspector down here to make sure we're compliant," he said.
Investigators said several units had smoke damage.
The complex was created to house formerly homeless veterans. Tom McCasland, director of housing for the city of Houston, said he would work with displaced residents to make sure they don't fall back into homelessness.
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