Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

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April 4, 2014

State called to investigate Royal Gardens blaze

By TODD GLASSCOCK

State Fire Marshals were called to investigate the fire that earlier this week devastated the Royal Gardens apartment complex construction site in the 1500 block of Martin Luther King Blvd. in Mineral Wells.

"We were called out because of the size of the loss," Brian Fine, State Fire Marshal fire investigator, said.

The cause has yet to be determined, Fine said.

Authorities are not ruling out anything, Mineral Wells Fire Chief Mike Pool said, although lightning from area thunderstorms was unlikely. "We're looking into every possibility," he said.

Pool said firefighters from eight area departments responded to the blaze just before midnight Tuesday that destroyed the complex, he said. Meant for income-based senior living, the 75-unit complex and clubhouse was a total loss.

Construction trailers and large amounts of equipment and heavy machinery such as loaders received  significant damage as well, he said. Garages on the south and west sides of the complex received minor damage.

Intense heat and flame also burned two power poles and damaged phone lines in the area, he said. The heat was intense enough that it sucked moisture from the concrete pavement around the complex, causing it to pop and crack. Several areas in the pavement around the complex were blackened and pocked with holes where the concrete had exploded.

According to Pool, no injuries were reported.

The intense heat also melted vinyl siding on the west side exterior walls of the Meals on Wheels building on 14th Street, across from the construction site, said Quinn Robinson, a board director for the organization. The building was otherwise undamaged.

Both Oncor and AT&T crews were out Thursday clearing and repairing damaged power and phone lines that had caused outages near the site.

Property co-owner Noor Jooma with Fern Developers of Dallas said he wasn't certain what his company will do regarding the complex. The property was 75-78 percent complete, and most of it was pre-leased.

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