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 . . ."
Watch KHOU Ch. 11's report: