4 Firefighters Dead in Houston Fire

Others are injured battling blaze at motel

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted May 31, 2013 5:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – Four firefighters searching for people they thought might be trapped in a blazing Houston motel and restaurant today were killed when the part of the structure collapsed and ensnared them, authorities said. At least five other firefighters were hospitalized in the blaze that became the deadliest in the 118-year history of the Houston Fire Department. The five-alarm fire took place at the Southwest Inn, along one of Houston's most heavily traveled freeways, US Highway 59.

Three firefighters were killed at the scene, while the fourth died at a hospital, according to the mayor's office and a medical examiner. Five others were hospitalized for treatment of chest pains or leg injuries. "We took the highest amount of risk possible because we thought we had civilians in the structure," Fire Chief Terry Garrison said. "The structure collapsed and our members who were trying to save lives were lost." Garrison said everyone else has since been accounted for. A cause of the blaze hasn't yet been determined.

A firefighter is wheeled to an ambulance after fighting a fire at the Southwest Inn Friday in Houston.
A firefighter is wheeled to an ambulance after fighting a fire at the Southwest Inn Friday in Houston.   (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Cody Duff)
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