It was bigger and moved faster than the May 31 motel fire that killed four Houston firefighters last year. Tuesday's five alarm fire destroyed an entire apartment building still in construction, damaged several cars and gravestones, but no one was injured. Professional photographer Alan Montgomery saw the smoke from his nearby home and grabbed his camera.
"Very high flames," he said when asked to describe the pictures. "Walls collapsing."
From above, Skyfox captured the images that captivated most of the Houston area for hours.
Fueled by the wind, brightly colored flames raced through the structure as an estimated 200 firefighters battled from ladders and the ground. While eye witnesses shared pictures of the fire over social media sites, Montgomery headed straight to ground zero.
"It's amazing how big the fire really is, being how it wraps around the block, " he said.
Closer to the burning structure, Glen Telge stood feet from his family's burial plot and watched firefighters spray water over century old tombstones toward the flames. The fire damaged several grave markers located inside the historic Magnolia Cemetery.
"It was founded in 1884 by the German Lutheran church," he said. "Gus Wortham and his wife are buried at the north end."
Wortham was a founder of the American general insurance company. His name is on buildings all across the city, including a nearby tower, where employees snapped pictures of the fire that forced a dramatic rescue, also caught on camera. YouTube video shows a construction worker dangling from a balcony, but firefighters rescued him in time.
In the end, there were no injuries, just a completely destroyed structure, several damaged cars and of course, those grave stones, which had been a cause of concern for people who thought the developer was building too close to the cemetery.
"We're hoping insurance will be the answer," Telge said. "Our owners can't afford to clean up this mess."