Crowded Houston nightclub evacuated over ‘life-safety concern’

HOUSTON – Authorities evacuated a crowded Houston club overnight for “life-safety concern” described as going “beyond the issue with COVID.”

At around 12:30 a.m. Sunday, officers were dispatched to Spire Nightclub, located at 1720 Main St. in downtown Houston, in reference to reports of a large gathering. On arrival, units observed an estimated 200 people waiting in line outside the club. In addition to the crowding outside, the club had exceeded its capacity inside, Houston police said.

The club was hosting an event dubbed the “All Black Affair” Saturday night, according the club’s website. An event poster listed Larry Morrow, Trey Songz, Kenny Burns and Fabolous as some of the notable personalities expected to appear at the event. Officers said some event-goers traveled from San Antonio and New Orleans to attend.

The Houston Fire Marshal’s Office and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission were called to the scene.

“What we found was, in essence, several fire code violations that became a life safety concern for us,” said Fire Chief Samuel Pena. “There was a large crowd inside, overcrowding, there were blocked exits, there were exits and means of entrance that could not be controlled.”

Authorities evacuated the club and gave the establishment the option to “reload” with the appropriate capacity but management ultimately chose to cancel the event.

“It goes beyond the issue with COVID,” Pena said. “Certainly we saw people inside that was overcrowding. It was certainly over more than 50%. It was to the point where it became a life safety issue, a fire hazard. If there was an emergency, a fire or something that would have occurred inside, we would’ve had a massive loss of life.”

During a news briefing Saturday, Mayor Sylvester Turner had expressed his frustration with clubs and bars, reclassified as restaurants, that continued to draw large crowds amid the ongoing the pandemic.

“I’m still getting some disturbing pictures of people, for example, hanging out at these clubs that have been re-characterized as restaurants,” said Turner “And let me tell you, they are not restaurants.”

Turner said the “loophole” makes it difficult for the city to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

“It is ludicrous,” said Turner. “When these bars and clubs have been allowed to reclassify themselves and when you look at these pictures, there’s no food on the table. None. That is crazy. I am calling on the state to review their policies.”

In June 2020, Turner launched a virtual “COVID-19 Accountability Wall,” which cites local businesses that aren’t following the city’s health guidelines. Spire Nightclub was one of the first business listed on the wall and remains there to this day.

The TABC previously suspended the club’s liquor license for 30 days after the establishment failed to follow the state’s coronavirus safety rules.

About the Author:

Briana Zamora-Nipper joined the KPRC 2 digital team as a community associate producer in 2019. During her time in H-Town, she's covered everything from fancy Houston homes to tropical storms. Previously, she worked at Austin Monthly Magazine and KAGS TV, where she earned a Regional Edward R. Murrow award for her work as a digital producer.