At 10:42 pm on February 12th northwest units of the Houston Fire Department were dispatched to a "check for fire" at the C&C Wholesale Distribution warehouse located near the intersection of W. 12th and N. Post Oak. On the box were District Chiefs 5 & 6, Engines 38, 11, 62 and 2, Tower 6 and Ladder 301. Through an automatic mutual aid agreement, the Village Fire Department's Ladder 301 responds on HFD boxes within a certain area of Houston. Ladder 38, the assigned first in truck to the location, was out of service on another assignment.
While still in route, the responding units were notified by dispatchers that an off-duty HFD Captain was on location and reported a working fire at a one-story brick warehouse. A tactical channel was requested by District 5 and moments later first in Engine 38 confirmed that there was heavy smoke and fire at the location.
Earlier reports indicated a brick warehouse. However, the warehouse was actually tilt- wall construction with approximately 20 overhead doors on what became the A-side of the fire. Engine 38 found the bulk of the fire behind overhead door 14, gained access and advanced a hand-line into the fire. As crews from Engine 38 and 11 gave an interior attack their best, District 5 requested Tower 6's crew to position their 100 foot aerial into position and requested a second alarm.
Overhead, a large column of inky black smoke pumped out through the roof and heavy fire was visible deep within the open bay, indicating that the fire had a good head start. Not knowing the contents of the warehouse, which would turn out to be carpet, flooring material and flooring adhesive, HFD's hazardous materials team was specially requested to respond. Due the volume of fire the order to go defensive at the same time the second alarm was requested.
As first alarm crews prepared for a defensive battle and second alarm companies arrived on location, materials in several bays of the warehouse flashed over and the fire began to quickly spread horizontally throughout the structure. Several explosions, which were possibly caused by containers of flooring adhesive, ripped through the warehouse raining bits of warehouse roofing and walls on the helmets of firefighters. With conditions continuing to deteriorate, Engine 38 and Tower 6 were ordered to reposition and a third alarm followed quickly by a fourth was requested.
On the C side of the fire, Engine and Ladder 28, arriving with the second alarm, were able to safely operate outside of the collapse zone from a wide alley. As Engine 28 operated its deck gun and Ladder 28 piped through its aerial ladder. Large sections of the tilt-wall structure showed obvious signs of collapse. As expected, several sections fell outward exposing what appeared to be mounds of burning carpet.
The fire ran the entire warehouse on the D side, but was stopped by a fire wall on the B side. Sections of both the A and B eventually collapsed outwards. At the height of the fire, HFD used four aerial master streams and several 2