HOUSTON (AP/WCSC) – Gusty winds turned what had been a small rooftop fire into a massive 5-alarm blaze that destroyed a large apartment complex under construction near downtown Houston, authorities said.
Officials say Tuesday's fire gutted the 396-unit Axis Apartments project. The roof and the shell of the expansive structure collapsed as the flames turned it into a charred ruin.
Fire Capt. Ruy Lozano said all construction workers who had been in the high-rise building were accounted for, and no injuries have been reported.
Incredible video captured by an onlooker in a nearby building shows the daring rescue of a worker as he prepared to jump to safety.
, shows a construction worker stranded on a fourth-floor balcony while flames whipped through the building behind him. As the fire raged on, the worker crawled down the side of the balcony and flung himself onto the balcony below.
A ladder truck then comes to the man's rescue. Just as the ladder begins moving away from the building, the top-floor of the apartment crumbles.
Fire officials said more than 200 emergency personnel battled the fire for 2½ hours before bringing it under control.
Witnesses said the fire started about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday on the northeastern corner of the roof but spread rapidly through a breezeway.
"There was a report of a couple of guys working on the roof doing welding," Houston Fire Department Deputy Chief Greg Lewis said. "When our units arrived, there was a small fire and construction workers were attempting to put it out. There was sustained wind of 15 to 20 miles an hour, and it was a wind driven fire."
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, Lozano said.