Mayday: 3 Houston firefighters rescued during corner store fire

Three firefighters, who were on the top floors of the low-rise building, called a mayday after one firefighter suffered from heat exhaustion

By Jay R. Jordan
Houston Chronicle

HOUSTON — Firefighters on Thursday extinguished a “stubborn” fire inside the basement of a downtown Houston corner store hours after their first response.

The fire broke out about 8 a.m. in the basement of Main Street Market at 901 Main. Houston firefighters were called to the store to quell the flames and almost immediately pulled a second alarm for more resources.

The fire was extinguished later in the afternoon, and arson investigators were on the scene looking into the cause, according to Houston Fire Department spokesperson Abby Ramos.

While there were no discernable flames inside the basement, something was burning that caused a massive amount of smoke to carry throughout the building and into the downtown airspace. Firefighters checked the building for any other source of the fire and couldn't find any, Ramos said.

Some of the firefighters who were in the top floors of the low-rise building called a mayday after one firefighter suffered from heat exhaustion, Ramos said. That three-person crew climbed to the roof of the building and was escorted off the building inside a ladder bucket.

The firefighter was taken to a nearby hospital in stable condition, according to Fire Chief Sam Peña.

He described the fire as “stubborn,” referencing how long it was taking firefighters to tap out.

After the mayday call, fire department leaders on the ground pulled all firefighters out of the building and developed a strategy to flood the basement with water in hopes of quelling whatever is burning.

Around the same time, fire crews and police evacuated the entire 900 block of Main Street, which includes a few shops and an apartment building.

Metro suspended a portion of the red line Light Rail, which runs through the heart of downtown along Main Street. The rail will remain closed through Friday morning. The investigation will require Metro to run shuttle buses from the Burnett Transit Center to the Downtown Transit Center, according to a press release.

Bus routes in downtown may also experience delays and possible detours.


©2019 the Houston Chronicle

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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