Traffic came to a halt on FM 1960 last Wednesday evening as commuters were still in the throws of the evening rush hour. The Sportsman's Outlet, located off FM 1960 between U.S. Highway 59 and just east of Wilson Road, caught fire at about 7 p.m., according to Humble Fire Marshal Clinton Johnson. Fire trucks, hazardous materials vehicles and numerous police cars were on the scene and law enforcement officers stopped traffic on FM 1960 in both directions as firefighters worked to bring the blaze under control. The facility contained an indoor shooting range as well as a vast stock of guns and ammunition. “We had a lot of ammunition discharging when we arrived on the scene,” said Johnson. The added danger prompted the swift closure of the road and later the congregation holding services across the street at the First Assembly of God had to end their services early and vacate their parking lot. Johnson said that there were about 35 people in the building when the fire started but that all escaped unharmed, with the exception of one young female law enforcement student who sustained a minor burn. With the ammunition constantly feeding the flames, the fire department had to use more defensive measures than are usually necessary to get control of the fire. “It was a very, very difficult fire to fight,” said Johnson. Aerial ladder trucks equipped with Master Stream nozzles were used to attack the flames from above. “We had it under control in about two hours,” said Johnson. He said that the initial investigation pointed toward the fire being started accidentally. “It was probably the result of gunfire discharging in the shooting range that ignited some material used for soundproofing,” said Johnson. He said that firefighters continued to battle spot fires until about 1 a.m., when the road was reopened. Johnson said that the building was a total loss. Store owner Gary Lee has been at the location for 12 years, and although the store was insured, he lost more than 30 years of special items that cannot be replaced, according to Angie Gentry of the Humble Area Chamber of Commerce. Lee's brother, Danny Lee, is an officer with the Humble Police Department. “When I met with Gary ... he was overwhelmed by the people that have stopped by already to show their support, with some bringing food and water,” said Gentry. Lisa Niccum of D&D Collision Specialists brought lunch to Lee and those with him at the site on Friday. Gentry said that “they are in a wait mode,” unable to do any cleanup until the investigation of the fire is completed. “Gary just asked for prayer from the community, and the community support is why he is anxious to rebuild and start over,” said Gentry. Photos by Kim Melchor

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