A home in the Fourth Ward’s historic Freedmen’s Town neighborhood caught fire overnight.
Conditions were difficult as Houston firefighters had to brave the heat and humidity, along with the actual fire, at a row house on Gillette Street at Victor Street.
A video shows flames shooting up from back of the historic home.
Officials said despite the aggressive attack needed from firefighters, things ended up much better than they could have. The damage was contained to the backyard of the home.
Firefighters said they were able to quickly extinguish the flames because the station was close by, there were no cars parked on the narrow street, and a fire hydrant was nearby.
An HFD district chief said they were a little concerned as they approached the fire and saw large columns of smoke. They quickly discovered that it was a large tree that was on fire, which officials said can make things look worse than they actually are.
That being said, it still required an aggressive attack, HFD said.
Thankfully, no one was injured and there was no major damage to any structures in the historic Houston neighborhood near downtown.
A witness said the row houses had been vacant because they were being remodeled. Someone was reportedly about to move into the home that was damaged.
“The fact that most of it was on the exterior of the building really benefitted us because we were able to get at it from multiple directions,” District Chief Hunter Schappaugh said. “And we had a good water supply. There’s a hydrant right on the corner, so we were able to make quick work of it.”
There are power lines outside of the home and an apartment next door, so things could have been much worse if the flames spread.
Firefighters have not said what sparked the flames.
This neighborhood is now known as Midtown or Fourth Ward, but its original name was Freedmen’s Town, a thriving Black community built by former slaves.
After the Emancipation Proclamation, many former slaves came to Houston forming a community on the banks of Buffalo Bayou, but since Houston was still racially segregated they had to do it all themselves, right down to the brick streets.