Nearly 20 people found living in unpermitted boarding home, fire marshal says

Harris County, Texas – The Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office said a tip from a first responder led them to an unpermitted boarding home near Baytown on Monday.

About 20 people were found living in the home on North Market Loop, the office said.

“Just mattresses on the ground, no dressers, no chairs,” said Public Information Officer Rachel Neutzler. “Just very minimal. Some didn’t even have bed sheets.”

The fire marshal’s office issued a stop work order, “which means they had to stop what they were doing in running that business and everybody had to vacate the building,” Neutzler said.

The fire marshal worked with another agency to find places for some of the people to go and more than ten were taken to the hospital to get checked out.

“The most serious that I could tell, one man had bed sores very badly from the top of his shoulder all the way down to his feet,” Neutzler said.

The county defines a boarding home as an establishment that provides lodging and some services to three or more people with disabilities or elderly people who are not related to the owner.

Neutzler said the county requires a permit, which includes a fire and safety inspection.

“Are there fire extinguishers in the home? Are there sprinkler systems in the home? Are the smoke alarms interconnected so that way if there is a fire, say in the kitchen, that the alarm system goes out throughout the home,” Neutzler said. “We found none of those things in this home.”

She also said there were bars over the first floor windows.

The fire marshal’s office said it’s seeking a temporary restraining order to ban this location from operating as a boarding home.

A mother and daughter were responsible for running the home, Neutzler said.

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office did not release any names but said it has an open and active investigation on the case.