Popular Houston landmark, former honky-tonk goes up in flames

Fire destroys Firehouse Saloon
Fire destroys Firehouse Saloon

HOUSTON – A saloon with a long history in the Houston area has burned down in an overnight fire.

The fire started around 1:45 a.m. Thursday at the old Firehouse Saloon on the Southwest Freeway and Fountain View Drive, authorities said.

Firefighters responded to the scene and found the establishment “heavily involved” in smoke and fire. Officials said the fire burned for well over an hour before firefighters were able to fully put it out.

The Firehouse Saloon was once a popular honky-tonk that saw big-name artists like Tim McGraw, Blake Shelton, Billy Bob Thorton and Miranda Lambert.

Where it was once recognized from the iconic sign and decommissioned fire truck that sat out front, the saloon was forced to close its doors during the pandemic.

“You don’t see honky-tonks likes this anywhere. I mean they are just not there,” Firehouse Saloon owner Tom Imber told KPRC 2 after the fire. “It’s obviously sad for everyone that has ever been there.”

Imber says he gutted the place before they moved out.

“We took all the boots, we took all the helmets, anything that was on the wall with good signatures, we just took them all,” he said. “The memories will keep coming and I have those in my mind and that’s really the important part, not the building, but the memories.”

Imber is a retired firefighter. He bought it from two other retired firefighters in 2009.

Marshall Hefly and his brother opened the venue in 1992. Hefly reflected on when a 14-year-old up-and-coming singer named Miranda Lambert used to take the stage.

“Her dad would come in there and he would always want her to open up for the opening act and she would always open for Roger Creager and Pat Green, and she would sing her heart out and there would only be a handful of people, and look at her now,” Hefley said.

Hefley also said it used to be a Houston Fire Dept. tradition to visit the saloon after graduation.

“When you graduated from HFD, and when it was over, all the young rookies would come to the firehouse and the big thing was we had an old boot hanging from the ceiling and we would fill it with draft beer and all the rookies would have to drink it,” he said.

Firefighters said the building was abandoned at the time of the fire. Arson investigators are working to determine the cause of the fire.

About the Author:

Daniela Sternitzky-Di Napoli has been a digital news editor at KPRC 2 since 2018. She is a published poet and has background in creative writing and journalism. Daniela has covered events like Hurricane Harvey and the Astros World Series win. In her spare time, Daniela is an avid reader and loves to spend time with her two miniature dachshunds.