Gov. Rick Perry opened the ceremony, speaking of the bravery firefighters must possess to do their jobs.

"You all understand the magnitude of this loss, just like those who battle the fires understand the flames don't discriminate," he said. "They still rush into danger while the rest of us flee."

If you looked over at the firefighters, this was one of the moments when many were working their jaws, chewing that gum furiously, while their faces stayed carefully blank.

They were gathered to honor Renaud, Bebee, Garner and Sullivan. The four were part of a team of more than 200 firefighters from 60 different units that responded to the call of a five-alarm fire at the Southwest Inn, located at 6855 Southwest Freeway, around noon May 31.

The firefighters were inside the burning building, looking for people believed to be trapped inside, when the roof collapsed. Three were killed at the scene and the fourth died at the hospital, one of 15 firefighters taken to the hospital from the site. (HFD Public Information Officer Capt. Ruy Lozano said it is standard protocol for firefighters to search for people when a place of business catches on fire in the middle of the day because, logically, people could be inside.)

May 31 marked the deadliest day of loss from a single fire in the Houston Fire Department's 118-year history. The remains of the Southwest Inn were torn down Monday, but Thomas Miller of the International Association of Firefighters said the name of the place will be synonymous for firefighters with the deaths of Renaud, Bebee, Garner and Sullivan.

HFD officers had escorted the bodies of the three who died at the motel away from the scene. It took more than three hours to finally put the fire out. The morning of June 3, the bulldozers rumbled over the gutted ruins of the Southwest Inn while investigators sifted the wreckage. The fire department brought in HPD Homicide; the State Fire Marshal's Office; the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and the Texas Rangers to assist in the investigation. The inquiry into the fire could take months, Lozano said.

Authorities are still being vague about what exactly happened inside the Southwest Inn as the investigation continues, but the memorial service speakers chose to focus on the lives of Renaud, Bebee, Garner and Sullivan.

"I stand here today not as an individual but as the mayor of a great and grieving city," Mayor Annise Parker said, noting that it takes something special inside to give a person the courage to walk into a burning building. "It's a calling," she said.

A representative from each family who lost a firefighter took a turn at the podium. Sullivan's mother, Mary Moore Sullivan, told of how it was her daughter's dream to be a firefighter. Tony Rocha, Renaud's uncle, pulled out an HFD T-shirt his nephew gave him and tugged it over his dress clothes as he spoke of how Renaud died doing what he loved. Ian Kim spoke of how excited his stepbrother Bebee was to be fighting fires for a living. Nicole Garner, Robert Garner's sister, told of how her brother said he'd be fighting fires as long as he could or until he died.

"My brother died living his dream," Garner said.

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re: the 510/59 interchange.  I don't get  that either.  what I get even less was that about 10 +/- yrs ago they re-did the entire thing to alleviate the congestion, only to have it look EXACTLY the same after the entire 2yr project was completed & still have the same results.  talk about wt*?!  the only people that benefit from that project were the engineers & construction company behind it.  they truly had the last laugh all the way to the bank on that one!

MJT1 1 Like

@jeeterbug   The expansion made a big difference on the morning / northbound side for about 5 or 6 years then things slowly worsened until the underpasses and flyovers were finished and things got better for a while. has a huge blind spot about the West Loop for some unfathomable reason.  The worst part of the exchange are the cars stacking up to go south from 610 NB to 59 SB which creates a wall between the main lanes and 59 NB.  I've got no idea what causes the stackup in the morning on 610 SB from 290 to the Galleria, either, but it's time that Transtar got off their ass and gives us an idea where these folks are coming from.

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