A three-alarm fire has caused expensive structural, water, and smoke damage to the Motel 6 near the intersection of Cypresswood and I-45 in the Houston suburb of Spring, TX. On-scene reports state that seven people, including two children, were transported to local hospitals for treatment of non-life-threatening smoke inhalation
According to Harris County fire investigators, the fire was caused by children by who were playing with a cigarette lighter in a third-floor room. Investigators say the children, ages 6 and 3, had been left with a babysitter before the fire occurred. The whereabouts of the children’s parents and the babysitter at the time of the fire was not announced. It is unknown if the babysitter will be charged with a violation of Texas child endangerment laws.
Live video news coverage suggests that the fire broke out on the top floor of the three-floor structure and that the flames had spread to the motel’s roof by the time firefighters arrived on scene. Based on publicly-broadcast images from the scene, the fire apparently destroyed a significant portion of the motel’s roof before spreading to an adjacent structure via a common attic. The combination of fire, water and smoke damage will probably result in the structure being “red-tagged” as unfit for use until significant repairs have been completed.
Although the investigation is far from complete, early evidence seems to suggest that the motel’s automatic fire suppression sprinkler system may have malfunctioned. It is also unclear if fire- resistant bed linens and carpeting were present in the structure’s rooms and hallways. If either proves to be the case, the motel’s owners could be facing significant financial and personal injury liability issues.
Today’s fire isn’t the first time emergency services responders have been called to the Motel 6 property in Spring. In October of 2017, the Harris County Attorney’s Office filed a lawsuit against NNJP LLC, a for-profit corporation which owned and operated the hotel, charging that the owners knew of repeated complaints filed with law enforcement regarding habitual criminal activities at the motel including trafficking of persons, prostitution, promotion of prostitution, compelling prostitution, and illegal drug offenses. In that lawsuit, the County Attorney alleged that police had responded to over 300 complaints at the motel in a one-year period.
Motel 6, a privately-held subsidiary of The Blackstone Group, franchises or operates 1,400 economy lodging locations under the Motel 6 and Studio 6 brands in the United States and Canada and under the Hotel 6 brand in India.
At The Doan Law Firm, we will be following this story and will post updates as they become available.