The fire at Bhojan Vegetarian Indian Cuisine restaurant in Houston left four Houston Firefighters dead and 13 injured. Five are still hospitalized. According to Houston’s Mayor Annise Parker, Friday will go down as the worst day in the history of the Houston Fire Department.
Three of the dead were found in the rubble. The other firefighter died at the hospital.
Those who lost their life’s were identified as Captain EMT Matthew Renaud, 35, of Station 51; Firefighter EMT Robert Garner, 29, of Station 68; Probationary Firefighter Anne Sullivan, 24, of Station 68; and Engineer Operator EMT Robert Bebee, 41, of Station 51.
The firemen were killed when a wall collapsed while they were searching for people inside of the building. Firemen went in looking for more people and found more fire than was expected. Fellow firefighters dug through rubble to find their colleagues. City Fire Chief Terry Garrison said the death toll could have been much higher if not for their bravery and quick action.
The fire started at the restaurant and quickly spread to the adjacent Southwest Inn.
“I’m just amazed at how big the fire was and how quickly it spread, how the smoke was just billowing in different directions,” said fireman Ryche Guerrero.
Chief Garrison said more than 150 firefighters were on the scene of the fire and many entered the building looking for people.
The cause of the fire has not been determined. Several agencies visited the site on Saturday: Representatives from the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, State Fire Marshalls Office, the Houston Fire Department’s Homicide Division and the Texas Rangers. According to Captain Ruy Lozano, bringing in these agencies does not mean it is a crime scene. The outside agencies help maintain a sterile environment in efforts to determine the fire and hopefully learn from it.
The funeral service for the four firefighters is scheduled for Wednesday at Reliant Stadium.
The firefighters are having to look to each other, look to their families, look to their faith and look to the firefighter support network to get through it,” an emotional Lozano said.
“… They also think about when they get home and their kids ask, ‘What happened?’ And how do you tell them. So it’s a difficult time.”
According to Assistant state Fire Marshal Kelly Kisner, 18 Texas firefighters have died on duty this year.
Written By: Veverly Edwards