A three-alarm fire has burned a shopping center to the ground in west Harris County.
According to the West I-10 Fire Department, firefighters were called to a strip center at 22303 Katy Freeway at around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday night after receiving reports of smoke off the Katy Freeway near Promenade Boulevard, KHOU reports.
By the time firefighters arrived, the blaze had already spread throughout the shopping center, leading to a third alarm. Around 100 firefighters were called to the scene to fight the fire before it was finally brought under control.
"It's hard not to break down and cry. The owner basically built an empire here and he had to watch it burn down to the ground."
Hazmat was called as the silk screening shop located in shopping center had barrels of chemicals inside. According to investigators with the Harris County Fire Marshal's Office, the fire started at one of two car shops located in the center.
Bianca Osborne, the manager of one of the businesses damaged in the blaze, said she woke up Thursday morning to several missed calls and immediately headed to the scene, KPRC reports. "When I pulled up it was way worse than I thought," she said. Osborne added that the owner of the business, Kool Karz, has operated it for more than a decade.
"It's hard not to break down and cry. The owner basically built an empire here and he had to watch it burn down to the ground," Osborne told KPRC.
Drew Wexelberg owns a tattoo parlor in the same center and called 911 when he smelled smoke from within the shop he opened in October. "My brand new business that I just spent all my money on looks like it is pretty much destroyed," he said.
Several cars were damaged in the blaze but no injuries were reported. Although the cause of the fire is unknown, arson investigators visited the scene Thursday morning and do not believe it was intentionally set. The investigators will return in a few days to determine the exact cause of the blaze.