Two painters suffered significant burn injuries and a more than 10,000 square foot mansion home in The Woodlands was destroyed Thursday night after a fire tore through the palatial French-style home in The Village of Cochran’s Crossing. The cause of the fire may not be known for weeks, officials said.
Interim Fire Chief Doug Adams of The Woodlands Fire Department said the fire was reported at about 5:30 p.m. Thursday by neighbors. More than 60 firefighters from three agencies and numerous medical personnel responded to the home located at 46 Palmer Crest in the Village of Cochran’s Crossing, adjacent to the third hole of The Woodlands Country Club Palmer golf course.
“We had no firefighters hurt. We had a total of eight fire trucks on scene and there were four ambulances,” Adams said. “(The fire) Had a major headstart before we arrived. (The home) Was fully involved by the time we got there. There is a gate (at the community) and that slowed us down…we have access, but it does slow us down a bit.”
Dozens of curious onlookers and bystanders flooded the neighborhood to watch the fire ravage the mansion that had its own swimming pool complex and a private tennis court. The home that burned down was originally listed as 26 Palmer Crest, but Interim Fire Chief Doug Adams said on Friday that the home in question was 46 Palmer Crest. In addition to The Woodlands Fire Department, The Needham Road and the Timberlakes fire departments also sent units to help.
On Friday, Montgomery County Fire Marshall Jimmy Williams said the cause of the blaze is still not known and likely will not be determined for several weeks as investigators analyze what happened at the home, which was undergoing interior painting by two workers when the blaze broke out inside an unknown room of the massive home.
“We have spent the day there,” Williams said late Friday afternoon. “The structure is still unstable, so we couldn’t do much. Commissioner (James) Noack’s office assisted us with some heavy equipment today, and that really helped us be safe.”
Williams also said the two unidentified men were working on an interior paint job when the fire erupted. Both fled the home before it become fully engulfed, but one of the men suffered “severe burns to his face and torso,” while the other worker had less severe burn injuries.
“Both men were initially transported to Memorial Hermann (The Woodlands), then a Lifeflight (helicopter) took the guy with severe burns to the Texas Medical Center,” Williams added. “The second guy was taken to Texas Medical Center by ambulance.”
In addition to investigators from the Montgomery County Fire Marshal’s office, Williams said his office has been assisted by agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives as well as from The Woodlands Fire Department in assessing the cause of the blaze.
“We had those two workers in there who were painting. We’re working to determine the exact cause of the fire,” he said. “We’re in a complex investigation…we’ll examine the equipment they were using, what they were doing at the time, we’ll analyze the paint and chemicals. The scene is still unstable.”
On Thursday, Washington told members of the media in an on-site press conference that firefighters had not been able to communicate well with the two men who were painting inside the home due to “language issues” that prevented getting specifics on what happened. Hot spots at the home had flared up throughout the evening and into the night Thursday and early morning hours of Friday,
The family of the home, who has not been identified was not home at the time of the fire. Their pets — two cats and a dog — are still reportedly missing and the family has asked for help in finding them.
“We’re still searching for the dog and cats,” Williams said.
The blaze occurred late in the afternoon, but the oppresive heat made conditions difficult for firefighters who were taking breaks and getting water as the blaze continued. Adams said spirits were lifted later in the night when township Board of Directors Chairman Gordy Bunch delivered food and beverage refreshments to the firefighters.
“To know that Chairman Bunch was thinking about the guys and went out of his way to bring us food, that says a lot,” Adams said. (The food) Was devoured.”