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Shelter-in-place lifted for residents near scene of warehouse fire in southwest Houston

HOUSTON – Firefighters are working Friday to put out a large blaze at a warehouse in southwest Houston.

According to authorities, the fire started around 10:30 a.m. at the Salon and Spa Wholesalers at Westpark and Fairhill drives.

The Houston Fire Department shared a tweet that said some parts of the warehouse may have collapsed.

Large flames and clouds of black smoke could be seen billowing from the building.

Sky 2 footage also showed one of the fire trucks on the scene had caught on fire and flames were coming from under the truck. HFD confirmed the damage.

Houston Fire Chief Sam Peña said two firefighters had to be transported to Memorial Hermann due to heat exhaustion. Both are reported to be in stable condition.

No other injuries were reported.

Peña called the fire stubborn and said crews are expected to be at the scene for the “better part of the afternoon.”

Asst. Fire Chief Justin Wells said the blaze consumed most of the one-story building and it will be a total loss.

Wells identified two of chemicals burning that could cause a health hazard: sodium hydroxide and an alcohol such as hand sanitizer.

What’s burning?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, sodium hydroxide is “an odorless, white crystalline solid that absorbs moisture from the air.”

It is very corrosive and can cause irritation to the eyes, skin, and mucous membrane, an allergic reaction, eye and skin burns and temporary loss of hair, according to the CDC.

The CDC said the chemical is used to “manufacture soaps, rayon, paper, explosives, dyes and petroleum products. It is also used in processing cotton fabric, laundering and bleaching, metal cleaning and processing, oxide coating, electroplating, and electrolytic extracting. It is commonly present in commercial drain and oven cleaners.”

According to Wells, there are also other chemicals burning that are associated with salon products, but there are “too many to list.”

Peña said he does not believe those chemicals rise to the reporting threshold for hazardous materials.

Shelter-in-place

The fire department issued a shelter-in-place one mile north and one mile east of the fire due to the release of hazardous chemicals.

Boundaries for the shelter-in-place are:

  • North Boundary: Westheimer
  • East Boundary: Hillcroft
  • South Boundary: Harwin
  • West Boundary: Gessner

Residents were advised to close all doors and windows, shut off heating and cooling systems and take shelter in an interior room.

However, the shelter-in-place was lifted once the firefighters got the blaze under control.

“People in the area may continue to see smoke until the fire is fully extinguished,” authorities said.

Wells said air-quality monitoring is still underway and everything looks good at this time. There’s a good breeze, so air quality is believed to be good, Wells said.

Authorities are setting up more monitoring. The shelter-in-place was issued to protect the public, Wells said.

Runoff from the scene is being contained, Wells said.

PHOTOS: See images from the massive blaze


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