HOUSTON –- A former church building was destroyed in an early-morning fire south of downtown Houston.
The Houston Fire Department was called to Dixie Drive at Allegheny Street around 5:40 a.m.
Firefighters found heavy flames shooting from a building behind a strip center. The abandoned two-story structure, which at first appeared to be a home, was quickly consumed by the flames. It took firefighters more than an hour to get it under control.
Nearby resident and community leader Tomarow Bell woke up to the sound of the sirens. She said at one time the building served as a church.
“It was a well-attended church, but they moved on because of growth,” said Bell. “As far as we know in the community, it was an empty building. I’ve seen homeless people in the area, but on a night like tonight it wouldn’t surprise me if they tried to seek shelter in the building knowing it was unoccupied.”
Gusty winds topping 35 mph made battling the fire difficult, but the winds also prevented the smoke from blowing onto nearby Highway 288.
Arson investigators said the building did not have electricity at the time of the fire. The cause is under investigation.
No injuries were reported.