Massive fire destroys Charlie's BBQ in north Harris County

By Stephanie Cano - Digital News Editor

HOUSTON - A restaurant in north Harris County was destroyed by fire Thursday.

Around 50 to 60 firefighters worked to clear the massive fire at Charlie's BBQ that started around 5:30 a.m. on 8220 Airline Drive.

Little York Fire Department Deputy Chief Don Gilkey called the building a total loss as the fire ripped through the roof and quickly spread as a result of high winds and a lack of water supply.

"We did have high winds today and it spread the fire pretty quickly and without any water supply or water suppression you lose control of the fire very quickly," Gilkey said.

Gilkey said they had to establish a dump tank division in which fire crews from around the county brought in a portable water supply.

Seven tankers hauled water back to the area, replenishing the supply that Gilkey said at minimum was 10,000 gallons of water.

VIDEO: Officials provide updates on Charlie's BBQ fire

The initial haul of water and supply setup slowed their efforts about  30 to 45 minutes, according to the deputy fire chief.

"There's already some portion of the restaurant that could have been saved, of course that fire was already through the roof, but the damage was done. But any kind of water supply could have helped us save whatever we can for the owner."

Streets in the area including Airline Drive between Carby Road and Margie Lane were blocked by fire trucks as emergency crews worked to clear the area. Fire crews and arson investigators were on the scene most of the day and the roads remained closed until noon.

Officials said the power in the area was shut off as a precaution affecting neighboring business and the community.

Gilkey said the cause of the fire is under investigation by the Harris County Fire Marshal.

There are no reported injuries.

Charlie's website says the restaurant opened in 1979 and has been a staple in the community for nearly 40 years.  

One woman said her uncle built the building in the 1970s she said he has since passed away and the restaurant and a new owner has taken over. But the restaurant still means so much to her family.

"It's real sad, it's sad for it to be my first job and to know what all he put into it, it's just sad to see it go," Cindy Medina said.

The owners of the restaurant said there was nothing turned on inside, and they were not smoking anything over night so they have no idea what could've sparked the fire.

But it is causing some concern for others in the community who were relying on the restaurant for upcoming events.

For Anglica Lira's family, the caterer has been paid, and the invitations were sent out.

"We have like 500 people waiting for that day so it's very important," Lira said.

Lira says they were shocked Thursday morning when they learned the BBQ restaurant they booked over a year ago to feed 500 people at her sister's Quinceanera went up in flames.

"She's freaking out because she's all nervous about her 15th and the last thing we needed was to probably not have food," Lira said.

Lira and her mother stopped by what was left of the restaurant trying to get answers.

"Try to figure out what's going on because now we don't know what to do," Lira said.

Managers say if you have an event coming up that is supposed to be catered by Charlie's BBQ, you should call their other location, Hungry Farmer BBQ at 40 E Crosstimbers St. in Houston to set it up.




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