The Axis Apartments Under Construction on West Dallas and Montrose Are on Fire Now

Fire at Axis Apartments, 2400 West Dallas St., North Montrose, Houston

Fire at Axis Apartments, 2400 West Dallas St., North Montrose, HoustonThose giant plumes of smoke billowing above North Montrose are coming from what were supposed to be the future Axis Apartments at the corner of West Dallas and Montrose Blvd. The 5-story, 368-unit apartment block under construction at 2400 West Dallas scoots up super close to the edge of Magnolia Cemetery — maybe a little too close? And the whole thing caught on fire earlier today, sending flames and dark clouds streaming southwestward. The wood-frame construction should provide plenty of fodder. The America General complex building has been evacuated, KHOU reports.

Developer JLB Partners bought the land from AIG in 2012.

Photos: Judith (top); Bill Bishop/KHOU

Flames in North Montrose

44 Comment

  • There are probably a ton of comments awaiting moderation, so pardon the repeat if this is one.

    Wasn’t this construction the subject of a report last night on local news (Channel 11?). Some woman who felt that this project was “just too close” to the cemetery. Granted, it was pretty close, but apparently a brick fence (wall) was going to be erected at the close of construction. Interesting that it would find itself on fire less than 24 hours later.

  • I can see it from my house as if I was Palin looking at Russia.

  • I am in the American General Complex and they have not evacuated the whole thing, just the American General Building which was closest to the fire

  • Good. I hated that monstrosity anyway.

  • I’m at a loss for how building codes allow for multi story, multi family, high occupancy buildings like this to be wood framed. They should be required to be steel framed. Sure other materials can still burn, but it wouldn’t be a giant heap of kindling waiting to turn into a bonfire like this.

  • About 5 blocks from my house. I was near Alabama and Montrose when I first saw the smoke. It was close enough to home that I drove back rather irresponsibly to make sure all was OK. I then went to the fire, I was about a block away shooting video of the fire when HPD and HFD chased us off.

  • Does anyone know if any apartment units caught fire that had tenants in them? Isn’t there a complex next to it that was recently finished?

  • Hope no one was hurt. And that is awesome. There was just a news story last night about people being upset that it is so close to the cemetery. Oooh, spooky, maybe the spirits did it. And maybe we should stop building things with toothpicks

  • Definitely arson. There was no gas or electricity at the property (common causes of fire) and it’s actually hard to set construction lumber on fire, it takes gasoline and persistence.
    I would definitely check at all of the “my old Montrose is disappearing” crowd for matches…. and lice.

  • @Al – According to Lisa Falkenberg at the Houston Chronicle – “Someone decided to burn it down. It wasn’t me.” Trisha Keel, who had complained about apt complex’s proximity to graveyard. #MontroseFire


    Quite devastating. Total loss. Well beyond the framing stages with lots of insulation, windows and other finishes going in. Given that the fire broke out during work hours, I would think that it was an accident related to the construction. Plenty of flammable materials and solvents around. Very fortunate no one was injured. But this will be expensive.

  • How does the COH allow wood framed , 5 story tall , multi-unit apartment (bee hive living) complexes to be built like this project? Easy : our lame ass politicians,starting with the Big Hypocrite herself,Annise Parker, that’s how.Whoever is in office at this time- his/her motto: ” Any development is better than NO development ” . She & Kathy live in a heavily deed restricted close in neighborhood,which -per it’s heavily enforced deed restrictions, will NOT allow new construction that is too big for its lot… Any time a developer wants to build something Annise ( to be fair past and future mayors have/will do it ) brown noses…and says, ” ” yes.” # Cody. Yes, man. This is the SAME complex Channel 11 aired a story on last night… I’d NEVER build anywhere near a cemetery. Reason why: Poltergeist…..

  • I just happened to be in the area for lunch when the fire broke out. I got a quick glimpse of the flames between buildings as I sat in a big ol’ traffiic jam! That sucker was burning like tinder. It took me 30 minutes to get from W. Gray and Waugh to the Medical Center. Even the side streets were jammed. There were cinders floating in the air as far south as Westheimer.

  • The same thing happened to those Jackson Hill apts. at about the same stage back in the day. They came right back up like bamboo. There’s plenty of ways that a site can catch fire even if no permanent power is hooked up. Maybe a worker’s hot plate on a 100 ft. chord? It was lunch time.

  • Too bad it was insured.

  • Dead people in cemeteries actually make the best neighbors. Unless, of course, they are angry poltergeists with fire starting proclivities.

  • May be a repeat, but according to the chronicle website, they were doing soldering work on the roof for ac unit install. Hope noone is hurt and there is no additional property loss; but next go round how about some ground floor retail?

  • Patrick — you know that Post built a 5 story apartment complex just like this a few feet from Mayor Parker’s house, right?

  • Who would want to live right next to the cemetery? Even though they were still yet to build a wall, it would still feel a bit strange looking over all those headstones. I drove by this last on Sunday and even commented to my friend how close and up against that cemetery it is. This probably was no accident…

  • @alternativemike…”Who would want to live right next to the cemetery?”

    I believe the section of the Allen House – since razed – that I lived in was built on top of a grave yard, or least that was the rumor when I lived there.

  • Hell living next a cemetery is about the only time you don’t have some townhouse or McMansion staring into your bedroom. Or the smell of grease from Raising Canes……and
    @Patrick–go down and have a tantrum at Ellen Cohen’s feet or whoever your council person is. Wood framing started long before Annise was born. Everything isn’t her fault. Why not just blame Obama?

  • I have watched several of these “stick” midrises being built. Talk about a recipie for death. I would never live in a building like this……look how fast the entire thing was consumed, even without furniture. Ask about construction materials before you rent!

  • Maybe some ground floor retail?

  • @alternativemike: I used to live next to a cemetery, and it was a great neighbor. They never had any parties. They never left old mattresses by the curb. It never got “redeveloped” into a Cane’s Greasepath. Many people, I suppose myself included, find them to be sylvan and contemplative, beautiful spaces. But I acknowledge that death is probably the #1 source of apprehension for the average person, so a symbol of our own looming mortality may not make the most comforting neighbor for many.

  • @ Commonsense: my money’s on a welding mishap. Just because the structure is wood, doesn’t mean they weren’t welding anything in there, and if they didn’t follow OSHA requirements for the welding, fires can start.
    Mc: it’s important to remember that what we think of as a five story building, isn’t necessarily a five story building according to the codes. A lot of “five story” apartments are actually three story wooden apartment buildings sitting on two level open concrete parking garages. For allowable number of stories, the code counts that as two buildings.
    Anyway, I hope nobody gets hurt this go around. The last thing we need is a replay of the Southwest Inn fire.

  • I have never understood why a tiny minority of people freek about cemeteries and expect someone else to do something about it. Everyone in them is dead.

    In Taylor Lake Village, where I live, there is a cemetery at the end of the street, Kellerman Family Cemetery. The headstones are long gone and no one even knows where the bodies lie. The kids in the neighborhood use it as a park. You can go by there any afternoon or weekend and you will see kids there. I think that is a great use for a long unused space, which cannot be otherwise be developed. Every once in a while, someone gets upset about kids in the cemetery and goes to the city council asking the city to put a fence around the cemetery or have the police run the kids off. These people who complain, know nothing about the history of this cemetery or who is buried there. They don’t even know the name of the cemetery. They lack perspective. The soil everywhere beneath us abounds with the remains of the dead, human remains and animal remains.

  • If it is indeed a welding accident, it’s a royal one. There’s not a welder in the world that carries neigh insurance to cover that ooopsie.
    On another note, let’s face it folks, this is not the biggest thing we’ve seen flaming in Montrose.

  • I had a perfect view from my office downtown, and it was incredible to see how quickly the north end of the complex was totally consumed. Well done to HFD for keeping it from jumping the road over to the Chevron station.
    I am glad I no longer live in a building like that.

  • The building had no working sprinkler system or any fire rated drywall to contain the areas of fire. Wood frame apartment buildings catch fire all the time and it does not burn like this one because they are finished. Of course your single family house with no sprinkler system or fire rated walls will burn as fast as this one did, so you are much safer in a commercial wood framed apartment building than a single family house. Eespecially a detached townhouse which can catch fire from your neighbor in the winds today.

  • @ Mc RE steel framing – NO anything goes in this town.
    Besides look at all that Styrofoam just ready to burn!
    And RE: Trisha Keel, probably not an arsonist. Welding frequently is the issue in construction fires. AND it was windy today.

  • My guess–Arson—thankfully no one was hurt –what a mess

  • Sunset Terrace is built on top of the old Harris County Poor Farm cemetery. I haven’t heard about any fires over there though…

  • The lots behind the American General buildings deserve to be built up with something we can all be proud of. These ticky-tacky firewood apartments and the Whole Foods store are the epitome of the current pathetic underbuilding of key inner-loop sites in Houston.

  • Funny, I was just telling someone the other day this would happen. Too much wood framing… townhouses, multi story aptartments… all close proximity, etc.. All I keep thinking of is the great Chicago fire. If this isn’t a wake-up call then God help anyone living in these piles of kindling. Fortunately no one was living there.

  • Of course it went up quickly! All of the wooden framing was exposed to gusty winds. There was no sheetrock to sheath it. Firewalls were not complete. This event is not an indicator that it is unsafe to live in a wood-framed structure; it is an indicator that it is unsafe to live on a construction site. Are so many of the people on here really this stupid?

  • I’m surprised that people think a cemetery is such a negative. Dead people make great neighbors. I’d certainly have preferred a cemetery when the next door garage apartment was rented out to the surly hipster who got drunk and played his electric guitar at 3 AM on a fairly regular basis.

  • This fire is an example of why my company dumped all the property we owned built in this manner. The tall wooden structures were always a concern for me since no sprinkler system would be able to keep up with the fire if it starts on the roof, which I bet this one did. These designs are death traps since roof tar and a fire started by an A/C unit located on the roof would follow the building line burning the gables hiding the units from the street view. once the roof caves, sprinklers are useless since they loose pressure once the main line is broken. Maybe now that we have seen the flaws in this type of design in person we will be able to get these designs changed to steel and concrete, instead of sticks capped in fire hazards. The 5000 SF lots with 4 town-home towers built on top of each other are also a huge fire hazard, FYI, since you don’t stand a chance getting by the most likely source of a home fire (the kitchen) since they all feature 2nd floor kitchens and third or fourth floor master bedroom plans…….. Houston does not have zoning laws since we do have building standards and codes that also must follow deed restrictions, yes people deed restrictions never expire and public safety standards in housing is being ignored here in Houston. Maybe now we will all wake up and smell the burned ugly apartment complex and realize it is time for The City of Houston to do it’s job and inspect, deny permits to places like this since the design is a known danger and it is on a lot likely to create huge traffic flow problems, not to mention the lovely cemetery views.

  • @ Former Multi-family Developer: I’m another former one of you. Incentives for a multifamily investor to divest new or new-ish wood-framed multifamily structures do not exist in any way shape or form. Are you sure that you aren’t a neighborhood activist perpetrating a false flag attack? Cuz…that’s what I’m reading from in between the lines.

  • Thanks Niche, for calling several of us “stupid”. Apparently your personality type turns off a civil discussion filter in your brain…and I use that term with caution…so that your only response to a difference of opinion is to insult others. I believe that can be termed trolling.

  • Gotta love a comment section that includes Shannon and Commonsense being dead wrong.

  • @Former Multi-family Developer- You should read those deed restrictions more carefully. They DO expire. At least those in my neighborhood did. Pretty much all of the older neighborhoods (within the 610 Loop) were created with deed restrictions that expire after a set period of time unless they are renewed. I happen to live in North Montrose/4th Ward (just 3 blocks from the site of the fire yesterday), and the original deed restrictions for my neighborhood, which was platted in the 1920s, expired in the 1940s and were never renewed. That’s one additional reason that those small 5000 SF lots can command such high lot prices… no active deed restrictions to limit what is developed on them… in addition to location and being walkable neighborhoods.

  • If this turns out to be suspicious at all in the least, I wonder if it would mean calling the top of the local housing market. (Well for these types of apartments anyway.)

  • How exactly do you know were wrong –maybe we are, but do you have any info you’d like to share–if this is indeed caused by welding, some rules really need to change, because this could have really been a real tragedy–I’ve just never seen a huge new construction burn so quickly, maybe it was just an indicator of all the wood and the wind–I’ll reserve final judgement, Arson was a guess obviously and that’s all we were doing was guessing because we have no idea the actual cause

  • @ sjh: Yes as a matter of fact I do believe that many people on Swamplot are stupid, ignorant, deceitful, self-interested, or some combination thereof. Lots of people use Swamplot; proportionately, there are probably fewer of these people on Swamplot than in the general population but that’s not saying much.