Fire Damages Gallery

Fire rips through up-and-coming art hub: New gallery forced to temporarily close

Fire rips through up-and-coming art hub: New gallery forced to close

fire at hair salon and laundry mat Houston August 2013
A Friday morning blaze gutted part of a Museum District shopping center, where a new gallery and furniture design store were starting to gain traction. Photo by Marika Rafte
fire at hair salon and laundry mat Houston August 2013
The W from a WASHETERIA sign Photo by Marika Rafte
fire at hair salon and laundry mat Houston August 2013
The roof collapsed above a laundromat and natural hair salon. Photo by Marika Rafte
Gallery Jatad
Gallery Jatad opened May 25 with a solo show for artist Joelle Verstraeten and a new display of works from Mali. The space remains close to assess smoke and water damage. Courtesy of Facebook / Gallery Jatad
fire at hair salon and laundry mat Houston August 2013
Photo by Marika Rafte
fire at hair salon and laundry mat Houston August 2013
Photo by Marika Rafte
fire at hair salon and laundry mat Houston August 2013
Photo by Marika Rafte
fire at hair salon and laundry mat Houston August 2013
fire at hair salon and laundry mat Houston August 2013
fire at hair salon and laundry mat Houston August 2013
Gallery Jatad
fire at hair salon and laundry mat Houston August 2013
fire at hair salon and laundry mat Houston August 2013
fire at hair salon and laundry mat Houston August 2013

An up-and-coming hub of artistic activity in the Museum District suffered a major setback early Friday morning when a two-alarm blaze ripped through a shopping complex at Blodgett and La Branch streets.

Firefighters arrived at the building around 2 a.m. to find flames bursting through the roof from a laundromat and natural hair salon. A large portion of the structure collapsed, leaving crews to fight the fire from the outside.

Houston Fire Department spokesman Ruy Lozano tells CultureMap that the fire was tapped out by 5:15 a.m. No injuries were reported. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

HFD officials say the roof at the middle of the strip center is gone, but the end spaces, including a food mart, remain intact. More than 60 firefighters were required to control the blaze.

The newly-launched Gallery Jatad, which concentrates on tradition African art and contemporary works on paper, suffered serious smoke and water damage along with a soon-to-open furniture store named Rojas Artistic Designs.

"It was worse than I thought," designer Victor Rojas tells KHOU. "We were planning to open Saturday, so now it's like we're not sure . . ."

According to Gallery Jatad's Facebook page, a scheduled Saturday reception for Texas artist Oscar Guerra has been canceled and the space will be closed while the owner assesses the situation.

Watch KHOU Ch. 11's report: