Memorial for Fallen Firefighters Scheduled as Investigation Continues

Categories: Texas

Photo by Dianna Wray
Last Friday, a call went out around noon for a fire that seems to have started in the kitchens of the Southwest Inn. Firefighters from the Houston Fire Department showed up, because that's what they do. The fire was massive, a five-alarm blaze being battled by more than 200 firefighters from 60 units. And then a roof collapsed and four firefighters were killed. It's still unclear what exactly happened inside the structure, and it seems we may not know for a long time what went wrong, according to Capt. Ruy Lozano, public information officer with the fire department.

The call went out around noon, a five-alarm fire at the Southwest Inn along the Southwest Freeway, and firefighters went to work trying to put out a blaze that is believed to have started in the restaurant, possibly from a grease fire, Lozano said at a press conference Monday afternoon held in front of the scene at 6855 Southwest Freeway.

Bulldozers rumbled and officials worked through the wreckage, ignoring the rubbernecking traffic crawling by on the highway while people slowed their cars to a roll to snap photos with their phones. Houston police officers watched the gawkers warily, eager to move them along.

"We're only allowing family to get close," an officer said as she escorted reporters past the burned-out structure.

Firefighters were in the building, reportedly looking for people trapped inside, when the roof collapsed, and this one fire suddenly became a historical event in one of the worst possible ways. In the collapse, four firefighters were killed, the biggest loss of life in a single incident in the Houston Fire Department's 118-year history. EMT Capt. Matthew Renaud, 35, Engineer Operator EMT Robert Bebee, 41, Firefighter EMT Robert Garner, 29, and Probationary Firefighter Anne Sullivan, 24, died battling the blaze at the Southwest Inn when the roof collapsed, according to KHOU.

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