Eight families were left homeless when a four-alarm fire destroyed their townhome complex on Saturday, KPRC Local 2 reported.
Margaret Chapa returned to her home in the Cedar Wild Townhome complex in the 10900 block of the Gulf Freeway at about 1:30 p.m. to see it engulfed in flames and covered in smoke.
Helpless, she and her daughter could only watch as everything was destroyed.
"(My daughter) told me I need to come home right away -- the house is on fire and I couldn't believe it," Chapa said. "I come and it's destroyed. Everything's gone."
"Just to watch everything you've ever known for like your whole life go down, it's unreal," Kristi Chapa said.
The building continued to burn for what seemed like an eternity to residents.
"It was just a fire that they couldn't stop and it just spread and spread," Kristi Chapa said.
Firefighters said they had that same feeling of helplessness. Crews said they were prevented from getting to the fire because of the traffic jam around the complex. They even needed police traffic control to open up the gridlock so they could get in.
When they finally got close enough to fight the fire, crews ran into trouble getting water.
"If we could have had better water distribution from the start, we probably could have been able to make a better stop," District Chief C.W. Chavez said.
Residents said they were just settling back in after Hurricane Ike.
"I don't have insurance," Earl Lair said. "I let it go because the budget got tight. After being out of my home for about a week after Ike, I've only been home now for a week just to be out again."
"What do we do, you know?" Margaret Chapa said. "It's like, you have to start over.
No residents were injured. However, the district chief said one firefighter needed medical attention for what appeared to be heat exhaustion.