GALLERY FURNITURE GUTTED BY FIRE ON THE NORTH SIDE!
The owner of a well-known furniture store is vowing the business will survive after a four-alarm fire swept through his 100,000-square-foot warehouse, causing millions and millions of dollars worth of damage.
No one was injured in Thursday’s night fire at Gallery Furniture warehouse just off Interstate 45. Significant traffic delays were reported. Owner Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale said the fire began in a corner of the warehouse.
“It’s kinda chaotic back there,” he said Thursday night. “I haven’t been back there. We’re letting the authorities handle it, as well they should.”
McIngvale said he had just left to go home for the night when he got a call from employees regarding an emergency at the store.
More than 100 people were in the adjacent furniture showroom and the warehouse when the fire broke out but all apparently escaped safely during the evacuation.
“Then I saw the flames in the corner of the warehouse back there where we receive the trucks. Some of the guys tried to put it out with a fire extinguisher. That didn’t work, so we called the fire department and they responded very, very quickly,” McIngvale told a Houston television station.
He said the ceiling of the warehouse collapsed.
“The storage area is going to be a total loss. It’s full of fuel. It’s wood, it’s paper. It’s cloth, things that burn really well,” said Houston Fire Department District Chief Tommy Dowdy.
The cause of the blaze was not immediately known, a Houston newspaper reported. One employee said the fire may have started around a generator in the warehouse, but that report has not been officially confirmed, Dowdy said.
Houston Fire Department officials said firefighters had to approach the fire in defensive mode, which meant they tried to contain the fire but it was too dangerous to try and extinguish. “We’re working really hard to try and keep it out of the main showroom. Right now, it’s in their storage area,” District Chief Tommy Dowdy said Thursday night. “I’m sure with all the amount of furniture in there, there’s a huge amount of combustibles in there. The roof’s down. The walls are kind of curling in. We’re putting elevated streams on it because there’s too much fire to even attack it with landlines.”
Carolyn Phillips, Gallery Furniture’s director of human resources, told a Houston television station that “millions and millions of dollars” worth of merchandise appeared destroyed.
McIngvale is among Houston’s most successful entrepreneurs. He and his wife, Linda, first opened the store at an empty model home park on a weedy lot in 1981, with just $5,000 in hand.
In the early days of Gallery Furniture, McIngvale and his wife slept there to guard their four sofas.
“We’ve got great people we’ll make it through this,” said McIngvale. “We made it through Hurricane Ike. We’re still alive. We can come back and do this tomorrow.”