Four firefighters were killed in Houston Friday night after a fire broke out at a the Southwest Inn motel, reports KHOU.
Strong winds fueled the 5-alarm fire that broke out at the motel near the Southwest Freeway near Hillcroft shortly after noon. Dozens of firefighters combated the blaze, but four of them went inside the burning building because they thought civilians were trapped inside. Fire Chief Terry Garrison confirmed that the four firefighters were killed when the roof collapsed on them. Three bodies were recovered from underneath the rubble of the motel and the fourth died after being rushed to the hospital.
“They were risking their lives to save the community,” Garrison said. “Unfortunately, the building had much more fire than we originally thought. The structure collapsed.”
The department identified the fallen firefighters as: Captain EMT Matthew Renaud, 35; Engineer Operator EMT Robert Bebee, 41; Firefighter EMT Robert Garner, 29; and Probationary Firefighter Anne Sullivan, 24.
Friday’s losses mark the worst in the Houston Fire Department’s history.
“Today is going to go down as the worst day in the history of the Houston Fire Department,” Mayor Parker said. “We ask for every Houstonian to offer their prayers for the families of these fallen firefighters.”
Thirteen more firefighters were injured in the blaze with one in critical condition in the burn ICU unit. They are being treated at the Memorial Hermann Hospital in the Texas Medical Center.
A cause of the fire has yet to be determined.