Houston’s Bravest Tackle Fire in Fifth Ward Historic District

On the evening of Tuesday January 24, 2005 Houston's historic fifth ward served up a fast moving fire to the firefighters of District 19. The fire building was an all wooden and decades old duplex located on West Street, a street crisscrossed with...


On the evening of Tuesday January 24, 2005 Houston's historic fifth ward served up a fast moving fire to the firefighters of District 19. The fire building was an all wooden and decades old duplex located on West Street, a street crisscrossed with rail-tracks and running through an area best described as a bad part of town.

The first in engine company, Engine 19, immediately put into action a "fast attack" - utilizing a pre-connected 1" handline. Ladder 19, arriving simultaneously, initiated a primary search within the section of the building that was on fire. With a plug near by, a four inch supply line was quickly secured, enabling Engine 9's and 12's crews to freely come into the fire and back up Station 19. The second in truck, Tower 6 which made the trek from the City's Sixth Ward, also provided additional manpower. Fourth in, Engine 17 set up as the RIT team.

With positive pressure fans set up to provide ventilation and primary search completed, what appeared to be a quick knockdown took a turn in favor of the fire when flames suddenly engulfed the attic and broke through the roof of the doomed building. Within seconds, portions of the main roof and patio overhang collapsed as the flames devoured the untreated wood of the occupied, but nonetheless dilapidated structure.

With orders from District 19, the emergency evacuation button of the "Grace Accountability System" was activated sending a warning to all those within the building of the need to exit pronto! With blasts from Engine 19?s air horn filling the air, further warning crews to evacuate, interior crews bailed and took the fight into West Street as they set up defensive positions and protected nearby exposures.

Despite the building falling in around several firefighters, no injuries were reported and the firefighters of District 19 were ready for their next fire, which would come in the form of a fully involved house under construction hours later over on Bringhurst Street.