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Fire on Heights Blvd near 12th

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HFD is working a 2-alarm fire at Heights near 12th (getting this from their radio traffic) but I don't know what is on fire or exact address. Anyone know?

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HFD is working a 2-alarm fire at Heights near 12th (getting this from their radio traffic) but I don't know what is on fire or exact address. Anyone know?

1135 Heights Bl. 10,000 SF house built in 2006. It has gone 3 alarm. In addtion to its aerial shots, Ch. 13 showed video of the blaze from the traffic camera at the Katy Fwy and Taylor.

Edited by Porchman

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Firefighters are searching through the charred rubble of a Heights home known as "the dollhouse" this morning in hopes they won't find an elderly wheelchair-bound woman who's unaccounted for.

More than 100 firefighters battled the 3-alarm blaze that broke out around 4 a.m. at 1135 Heights Boulevard. The fire was tapped out about 5:15 a.m., but firefighters from the Houston Fire Department aren't sure if the woman who owned the house, known around the Heights for her large doll collection, was home.

A man who lived in the garage apartment behind the house apparently woke up, saw the flames and tried to get into the main house to see if the woman was inside, but the intense flames forced him back. Assistant Chief David Almaguer said the tenant told fire officials he believed the woman was home.

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/facebook/7363390.html

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Hopefully they will learn that the occupants were not at home. And without making light of the possible tragedy, I'd like to point out that thanks to our new historic ordinance, the charred remains of the house will sit there like an eyesore until someone can afford to rebuild it exactly like it was before the fire.

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Hopefully they will learn that the occupants were not at home. And without making light of the possible tragedy, I'd like to point out that thanks to our new historic ordinance, the charred remains of the house will sit there like an eyesore until someone can afford to rebuild it exactly like it was before the fire.

Exactly like it was may not qualify any longer if I remember correctly. I believe it will now have to be constructed according to the scale of the rest of the block taking into consideration other homes on the boulevard. Given that there are other large homes on the boulevard it may be allowed, but there are no guarantees....It is an entirely subjective determination to be allowed or not allowed by a group of appointed people who may or may not have liked that house.

I do remember that the ordinance as proposed required the house to be in scale with the rest of the homes....even if you were building the most historic home in the world from 200 year old wood, with real leaded stain glass windows, and no air conditioning, if it was larger than other homes on the block, and out of scale, it could still be denied. There were no objective rules to comply with...it just required approval.

Truly a shame to see such a house burn down....I heard from a co-worker that said he heard on the news that the home even had a fire suppression system...if that is true, I would like to know the brand of suppression system because I do not want to purchase that one in the future!

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Hopefully they will learn that the occupants were not at home. And without making light of the possible tragedy, I'd like to point out that thanks to our new historic ordinance, the charred remains of the house will sit there like an eyesore until someone can afford to rebuild it exactly like it was before the fire.

Really, really, really bad taste. Two people may have died a pretty horrible death in that house. The owner was reported to have been home the night before the fire. Now is not the time to go there with the anit-preservation crap.

And, as is typical with the anti-preservation crowd, what you say is completely false because the house is not in a historic district. The true colors of the opposition come shining through.

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Really, really, really bad taste. Two people may have died a pretty horrible death in that house. The owner was reported to have been home the night before the fire. Now is not the time to go there with the anit-preservation crap.

And, as is typical with the anti-preservation crowd, what you say is completely false because the house is not in a historic district. The true colors of the opposition come shining through.

Nice....carefully omit the section that reads "Hopefully they will learn that the occupants were not at home. And without making light of the possible tragedy"

All you see is all you want to see. I see no bad taste in any way. With every tragedy or disaster comes the aftermath and the recovery/repair...some people plan for the future....I see no bad taste whatsoever in looking past the current moment to the repercussions of our actions...but I guess that is something not everyone, especially you, can do.

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Really, really, really bad taste. Two people may have died a pretty horrible death in that house. The owner was reported to have been home the night before the fire. Now is not the time to go there with the anit-preservation crap.

And, as is typical with the anti-preservation crowd, what you say is completely false because the house is not in a historic district. The true colors of the opposition come shining through.

Bad taste begets bad taste... why not just keep your mouth shut?

and in continuation of bad taste here is my contribution.

From this map here http://www.preservehouston.org/Historic%20Districts%20Pages/Houston%20Heights_East/pages/HoustonHeights_East_jpg.htm on the preservehouston website this house is in a historic district...

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Guys...

Anyhow, not looking so great from the Chron update:

Worthington’s ex-husband, David Worthington, 69, of Naples, Fla., said he expects Houston firefighters will find his former wife’s body inside the charred rubble of her home, noting it is unlikely she would be out of town.

"My wife never traveled without assistance, so it’s highly unlikely that she would be on a trip to Santa Fe or something. It’s not within the realm of reality at all," David Worthington said today. "So I assume that they will uncover her remains in the process they’re going through right now."

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/7363390.html

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On the 4 p.m. news, Deborah Wrigley on 13 said that one body had been recovered.

She also said there would be a detailed report on the 6 o'clock news.

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Truly a shame to see such a house burn down....I heard from a co-worker that said he heard on the news that the home even had a fire suppression system...if that is true, I would like to know the brand of suppression system because I do not want to purchase that one in the future!

No way that home had a fire suppression system. You would think it would have, given it's cost. I'm wondering if it even had a working fire/smoke alarm? Looks like it was totally involved before the fire department arrived. Fires usually just don't grow that fast and intense (without help).

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No way that home had a fire suppression system. You would think it would have, given it's cost. I'm wondering if it even had a working fire/smoke alarm? Looks like it was totally involved before the fire department arrived. Fires usually just don't grow that fast and intense (without help).

Not exactly true. Fires can spread INCREDIBLY fast. Especially if it got ahold of the famous doll collection... talk about instant kindling. "Help" (to me, at least) insinuates arson. I hope this is just a very, very unfortunate accident. It's a terrible loss.

Doesn't sound like the FD was called until flames were seen from the street (I think I read a cabbie called it in).

As a sidenote, "250 firefighters"?!?!?! My god. That's INSANE.

Edited by Jesse

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Not exactly true. Fires can spread INCREDIBLY fast. Especially if it got ahold of the famous doll collection... talk about instant kindling. "Help" (to me, at least) insinuates arson. I hope this is just a very, very unfortunate accident. It's a terrible loss.

Doesn't sound like the FD was called until flames were seen from the street (I think I read a cabbie called it in).

As a sidenote, "250 firefighters"?!?!?! My god. That's INSANE.

It was a pier and beam house....pier and beam homes burn faster than a traditional slab style home because the air flow from the under the home allows the fire to breathe and not become starved of oxygen. Just like on your charcoal grill...if you starve the air from the bottom it burns much slower....the same principal applies to a real fire in a pier & beam home....except you cant close the louver on the house.

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Not exactly true. Fires can spread INCREDIBLY fast. Especially if it got ahold of the famous doll collection... talk about instant kindling. "Help" (to me, at least) insinuates arson. I hope this is just a very, very unfortunate accident. It's a terrible loss.

Doesn't sound like the FD was called until flames were seen from the street (I think I read a cabbie called it in).

As a sidenote, "250 firefighters"?!?!?! My god. That's INSANE.

I would not want to argue with the Fringe about fire details. IRL he has a fire-fighting background. :)

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I agree fires can spread really fast and if it was an old home I could even buy into the pier and beam burning more rapidly but this was a relatively new home that I'm betting was very well insulated. Also, once it got really going I'm sure it spread rapidly but how does a home like this NOT have fire/smoke alarms that should have alerted the occupants long before it grew to an unmanageable size. Something just isn't right. I will be very interested in what the fire investigators find. That was no "normal" house fire.

Edited by Fringe

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I wouldn't doubt if it was some bad wiring involved that was stressed by any christmas decorations she had.

sounds tragic and mundane, but it's all too common with newer home house fires. The bad electrical, that is.

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I agree fires can spread really fast and if it was an old home I could even buy into the pier and beam burning more rapidly but this was a relatively new home that I'm betting was very well insulated. Also, once it got really going I'm sure it spread rapidly but how does a home like this NOT have fire/smoke alarms that should have alerted the occupants long before it grew to an unmanageable size. Something just isn't right. I will be very interested in what the fire investigators find. That was no "normal" house fire.

I hadn't thought of this is in all the chatter but yeah, a house that size with a wheelchair bound occupant and multi-million dollar collectibles should have had an alarm system that would have notified the fire department. I mean, hell, my crappy 1980s alarm system in my 1930s bungalow is equipped to do that... I have been poo-pooing the idea of arson and still doubt it, but that does make it seem like something fishy was up. I am just so heartbroken for her children and the family of her caregiver. My hope is that they were quickly overcome with smoke and didn't linger long.

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I hadn't thought of this is in all the chatter but yeah, a house that size with a wheelchair bound occupant and multi-million dollar collectibles should have had an alarm system that would have notified the fire department. I mean, hell, my crappy 1980s alarm system in my 1930s bungalow is equipped to do that...

It may have - there are reports that there was an explosion and fireball. If it was some kind of gas situation (and that house had gas lamps, fireplaces, and lots of gas appliances in the very large kitchen), the alarm wouldn't help until ignition.

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I hadn't thought of this is in all the chatter but yeah, a house that size with a wheelchair bound occupant and multi-million dollar collectibles should have had an alarm system that would have notified the fire department. I mean, hell, my crappy 1980s alarm system in my 1930s bungalow is equipped to do that... I have been poo-pooing the idea of arson and still doubt it, but that does make it seem like something fishy was up. I am just so heartbroken for her children and the family of her caregiver. My hope is that they were quickly overcome with smoke and didn't linger long.

I have thought of all this as well..You cannot build a home without smoke detectors. It is code. They are required in specific places like hallways, and bedrooms....They are no longer permitted to be operated solely on battery either they must have AC power with battery back up, and every smoke detector has to connect to the next smoke detector so that when one goes off they all do.....This is a 2006 building, so she had lots of smokes, and they all went off when the first one did....even if the power was out (unless she could stand that incessant chirp) I think it is a safe assumption that the smoke detectors were probably working, and that they did indeed go off.

One can only speculate on what happened next...There does seem to be something strange going on though. Why only one body so far if two were there? What sparked the blaze? Was there really an explosion? If it were my family, in addition to dealing with the grief I would also immediately ensure that all the finances and resources the obviously wealthy woman had are still in place and that someone has not started a fire to cover up a crime. Time will tell us what happened in this tragedy, but at the moment there are alot of flags up that should be raising suspicion.

Caretakers, while fantastic, get to know a tremendous amount of personal details about the person they take care of....especially long term caregivers. We have had multiple caregivers take advantage of my grandmother, and one would have gone much farther with it all if she had not been caught and confronted....elderly are sadly too easy to take advantage of....and it seems the wealthy elderly may be too eager to help out, I know my grandmother is, and often times the combination of wanting to help, being elderly, and having another person around do not always collide well. Hopefully there was no foul play involved here for everyones sake, and hopefully another body will not be found...but at the moment there are questions that need to be answered.

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If there indeed was an explosion and it involved gas then that would explain a lot. Even a fire suppression system would not have helped. A house out in Mo City suffered similar consequences just a few years ago. It was gutted but the occupants got out safely.

I would have to think this home was well equipped to be fire safe given the condition of the occupant and the fact that it was an expensive new home. If not then shame on whomever built it.

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I'm puzzled as to why the second body has not yet been recovered. The first victim was found yesterday afternoon but to my knowledge, her identity has not been released.

There are a number of photos on Flickr of the aftermath and what is strange to me is that the lawn and landscaping appear to have been untouched by the flames. I would think the heat would have gotten to the vegetation.

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I'm puzzled as to why the second body has not yet been recovered. The first victim was found yesterday afternoon but to my knowledge, her identity has not been released.

There are a number of photos on Flickr of the aftermath and what is strange to me is that the lawn and landscaping appear to have been untouched by the flames. I would think the heat would have gotten to the vegetation.

Yes! I am not usually much of a conspiracy theorist but I went by there today to take a picture (I'm doing a 365 project, where I take pics every day and load them to a calendar. It will be a photo diary of the year and I want to remember this event) and noticed there was a urn on a brick pedestal that had red flowers and was totally green. However, the brick column and flowers are up very close to the fence line, which would not have been right based on my recollection. The house was pretty far back from the fence. Maybe this was freestanding closer to the fence... Who knows, but it sure looked weird to see that pristine plant in the midst of all that destruction and sadness.

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Yes! I am not usually much of a conspiracy theorist but I went by there today to take a picture (I'm doing a 365 project, where I take pics every day and load them to a calendar. It will be a photo diary of the year and I want to remember this event) and noticed there was a urn on a brick pedestal that had red flowers and was totally green. However, the brick column and flowers are up very close to the fence line, which would not have been right based on my recollection. The house was pretty far back from the fence. Maybe this was freestanding closer to the fence... Who knows, but it sure looked weird to see that pristine plant in the midst of all that destruction and sadness.

Maybe placed there post-fire?

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Caretakers, while fantastic, get to know a tremendous amount of personal details about the person they take care of....especially long term caregivers.

I agree. There are some fantastic caretakers and then some that take advantage of who they are intended to protect and care for.

What I thought was curious, though perhaps nothing, is the primary caretaker was not in the house and her adult son was the resident in the garage apartment.

Regardless of what happened, it's a terrible loss.

Edited by seoid

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Got this about an hour ago:

----------------

UPDATE: Heights Area Fire

Houston Fire Department Arson investigators located the remains of a second person in the debris of a Heights area home this morning. The remains are yet to be identified pending review by the Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office.

The Houston Fire Department was dispatched to the home at 1135 Heights Boulevard just before 4 a.m. on Monday, January 3, 2011. Firefighters arrived on scene at and found the two-story, nine-thousand square foot home engulfed in flames. The intense fire prevented firefighters from making a primary search of the structure.

Nearly 250 firefighters were called to the scene to fight the three-alarm blaze and to protect nearby homes from exposure. The fire was tapped out at 5:30 a.m. .

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Updates will be released as they become available.

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Maybe placed there post-fire?

I don't think so. After looking at the picture again, I am thinking the wind was very strong that night/morning and I would guess it was blowing west, away from the urn... I am trying to get the picture on here but it won't use either image extension from the shuttercal site...

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Was the woman who owned the house (in the Chron photos) killed in the fire?

And 9,000 square feet! For a house, that's huge!

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Was the woman who owned the house (in the Chron photos) killed in the fire?

And 9,000 square feet! For a house, that's huge!

I believe the current updates are that the 2 bodies found are the woman (wheelchair bound) and one of her caretakers

Yes, it was a massive house. Beautiful, too. She really did a remarkable job building it.

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If the fire started in the attic, her alarms and sprinklers wouldn't have gone off until it was too late, right? By that time, the fire may have gone through the walls.

Is there any smoke or heat detector that would work in an unfinished bungalow attic? If so, I want to get it ASAP.

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Heat rises. Fires in attics generally burn off the roof but rarely get to deep into the interior of the house. Usually with attic fires the most damage to the interior is from water from the fire department. The interior of this house was completely destroyed. It had to start on the first floor. At least that's my observation from the pictures I have seen.

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Yeah, I drove by the house yesterday. It is completely gone. Seldom have I seen a fire so completely consume a structure as this one did. It pretty much had to have started near the bottom.

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Got this about an hour ago:

----------------

UPDATE: Heights Area Fire

Houston Fire Department Arson investigators located the remains of a second person in the debris of a Heights area home this morning. The remains are yet to be identified pending review by the Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office.

The Houston Fire Department was dispatched to the home at 1135 Heights Boulevard just before 4 a.m. on Monday, January 3, 2011. Firefighters arrived on scene at and found the two-story, nine-thousand square foot home engulfed in flames. The intense fire prevented firefighters from making a primary search of the structure.

Nearly 250 firefighters were called to the scene to fight the three-alarm blaze and to protect nearby homes from exposure. The fire was tapped out at 5:30 a.m. .

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Updates will be released as they become available.

As a sidenote, "250 firefighters"?!?!?! My god. That's INSANE.

Houston has 4 men per truck and approximately 8 trucks worth of men (counting chiefs and ambulances) per alarm, or 32 total. 32 x 3 alarms = 96 men, approximately. Not sure how they got almost 3 times that amount.

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Houston has 4 men per truck and approximately 8 trucks worth of men (counting chiefs and ambulances) per alarm, or 32 total. 32 x 3 alarms = 96 men, approximately. Not sure how they got almost 3 times that amount.

Typical reporting. Even with multiple chiefs, volunteers, rehab and cascade trucks 250 seems a little high. Probably closer to 150. And remember there was a shift change during overhaul so they may be counting the second crew.

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As a PSA, I'd like to ask Fringe what tips he has about fire prevention and mitigation should one break out. I live in an old frame house; we are up to code and are pretty militant about prevention and escape situations, but this fire really brought out a strong childhood fear of house fire in me. Any tips?

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Typical reporting. Even with multiple chiefs, volunteers, rehab and cascade trucks 250 seems a little high. Probably closer to 150. And remember there was a shift change during overhaul so they may be counting the second crew.

The first reports I read stated over 100. Later, it jumped to 250. Maybe you are right that they included a shift change.

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As a PSA, I'd like to ask Fringe what tips he has about fire prevention and mitigation should one break out. I live in an old frame house; we are up to code and are pretty militant about prevention and escape situations, but this fire really brought out a strong childhood fear of house fire in me. Any tips?

Smoke detectors. They may not save your house but they will at least save you. Get the dual sensor type (ionization and photoelectric). They react differently to different types of fires.

Get a fire extinguisher. Cooking is the leading cause of fires in homes. Always have 2 ways out. Make sure that bedroom window hasn't been painted shut like so many old homes I have seen. Other than that, just use common sense and you will most likely have nothing to worry about.

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I'm not a fire expert by any means, but I have a few more that may help. Be aware that many children & teens won't wake to the noise that a typical smoke alarm makes. So make sure you aren't relying on that to rouse your kids in an emergency! There are some alarms that allow you to record your voice which *may* do better waking up your kids.

Also, if you have a second story make sure you have (and know how to use!) an escape ladder.

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Smoke detectors. They may not save your house but they will at least save you. Get the dual sensor type (ionization and photoelectric). They react differently to different types of fires.

Get a fire extinguisher. Cooking is the leading cause of fires in homes. Always have 2 ways out. Make sure that bedroom window hasn't been painted shut like so many old homes I have seen. Other than that, just use common sense and you will most likely have nothing to worry about.

additional recommendation.

think twice before putting a smoke detector in your kitchen.

most smoke detectors work by sensing the number of particulates floating around in the air, which is what smoke is made up of. Anyway, bacon, or something like that could very easily set off a smoke detector.

at least get one that is easy to silence when you're cooking.

Edited by samagon

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True. The worse place for a detector is in or near the kitchen. Also want to keep them out of the attic because they will collect dust and create false alarms. I would suggest a heat detector for these areas but they are usually only available with commercial systems, not stand-alone's. Also keep in mind detectors don't last forever. After 5 - 7 years they begin to loose their effectiveness.

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