The Brick reopens for New Year’s Eve after fire causes damage to strip center

Recovery trucks are parked outside Sal’s Pizza Restaurant, which is hoping to reopen Friday after a fire at Oishii caused damage. The Brick was closed Sunday but reopened for New Year’s Eve. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Wycliff Avenue gay bar The Brick reopened for New Year’s Eve after a fire caused major damage to nearby Oishii Sushi on Dec. 30, according to Brick spokesman Jimmy Bartlett.

Dallas Fire Rescue spokesman Lt. Joel Lavender said the cause of the fire is under investigation. There were no injuries.

Sal’s Pizza Restaurant and a dental office, which are next to Oishii, suffered water and smoke damage. Sal’s representatives said they are hoping to reopen Friday.

Bartlett said the Brick had only minor smoke damage. Electricity was restored to the bar on Monday morning but as of this morning, the office, situated between the bar and a bank, was still without power.

“Somehow they skipped us when they turned the power back on,” Bartlett said, adding that the gas also was still off.

The two-alarm fire was reported at 6:37 a.m. About 40 firefighters responded.

“Our biggest concern was extension of the fire,” Lavender said.

The Hondo Park apartments are directly behind the shopping center and firefighters were concerned the fire might spread to the residential units.

—  David Taffet

3-alarm blaze destroys 12-unit Oak Lawn condo

The 12-unit apartment complex at 4100 Holland Avenue in Oak Lawn is shown Thursday afternoon.

A three-alarm blaze destroyed at least four condos in a 12-unit complex in the 4100 block of Holland Avenue in Oak Lawn early Thursday morning. Others were heavily damaged with smoke and water. No one was injured.

Some of the units may have been vacant, but 11 people were left homeless.

The fire was started by an electrical short causing an estimated $625,000 in damage, $500,000 structural and $125,000 in personal property, according to Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesman Jason Evans.

Investigators on the scene Thursday afternoon said wind may have contributed to the severity of the blaze that began at 1 a.m. and was still burning by 5 a.m. Evans said limited access to the building as well as air conditioning units on the roof prevented firefighters from attacking the blaze offensively.

The Red Cross responded to help residents find temporary shelter. Residents were able to get back into their apartments to pick through belongings. The lower floor had no fire damage, but the entire property is uninhabitable.

—  David Taffet

Oak Lawn community organizes donation site at Sam Houston Elementary for fire victims

Congress House Apartments, 4320 Congress Ave. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

Donations are being accepted for the 10 families displaced by an early morning fire at the Congress House Apartments on Thursday.

Nancy Weinberger, leader of the Oak Lawn Stakeholders crime watch group, sent an email out Thursday evening to inform the Oak Lawn community that the families lost everything they owned and are in need of clothing, furniture and other items. The American Red Cross housed the families and gave them cash cards but they will need to find permanent housing.

The nearby Braes Brook Apartments are being vacated, Weinberger said, so some of the families planning to move to Congress House will likely have to find other housing as well.

Donations can be dropped off at Sam Houston Elementary School, at 2827 Throckmorton St. While no one is in the office, Weinberger said she has spoken to school administrators and that custodial staff and teachers working summer camps at the school will be there throughout the summer to collect items. Donations can be made between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. by accessing the door off Dickason by the gym.

Weinberger said items needed range form clothing to linens and furniture.

“These families have lost everything,” she said.

—  Dallasvoice

Blaze destroys 10 units at Oak Lawn complex

Congress House Apartments, 4320 Congress Ave. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

Dallas firefighters battled a three-alarm blaze early Wednesday morning in Oak Lawn that destroyed 10 apartments.

Firefighters were alerted at 4:45 a.m. to the fire in a downstairs apartment in the Congress House Apartments, at 4320 Congress Ave., according to Dallas-Fire Rescue.

A second alarm was called 10 minutes later and a third alarm for additional help came at around 5:15 a.m., resulting in 54 total firefighters fighting the flames that reached the attic and were intensified by the heat.

—  Dallasvoice

The person who’s provided housing for everyone else for 25 years is homeless

Don Maison

AIDS Services Dallas President and CEO Don Maison is looking for a place to live for the next three months after a fire started in the upstairs apartment of his East Dallas duplex.

ASD began providing housing for persons living with AIDS in 1985. Maison has headed the organization since 1989, helping to provide a place to live for thousands of people over the years. But now Maison is without a home.

“I’m fine,” Maison said. “No one was hurt.”

The fire began in the upstairs apartment when Maison’s tenant lit a fire in the fireplace. Flames got behind the wall starting the fire. Ten firetrucks responded. Maison said his part of the houses suffered mostly water and smoke damage. There were no injuries.

Maison said he was surprised when firefighters entered his house with tarps and covered — and saved — his artwork and piano.

However, structural damage will take several months to repair. Insurance is covering the damage and a temporary place to live. Maison said he thinks he found something near his house where they will sign just a three month lease with him.

—  David Taffet

Fire Island reality series seeks gays to audition

If you think reality TV has made gay Dallas look a little crazy lately, well, here’s you chance to bring a little Texas-crazy to New York.

You have until Friday to apply to become a cast member of the Fire Island Summer Project (a working title, we’re assuming), a new series from the producers of RuPaul’s Drag Race. And here’s the best part: You don’t need to be from the NYC area — they want folks from all over to apply!  Filming begins this summer, probably in a beach house the Pines (despite a fire recently that scorched parts of the island).

The application has some pretty straightforward questions, plus a few that indicate the casting agents’ interest in seeking diverse and charged action on the show, such as “What do you think makes you stand out from the crowd?,” “What role do you play in your social circle?,” “Do you have any quirks or strange habits? and “What is your craziest Spring Break story?” And you never have to have vacationed on Fire Island before to be eligible.

If you think you might be interested, click here. And if you end up getting cast and turn out to be the asshole villain on the series, do us all a favor — say you’re from San Antonio!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

HISD trustee distributes anti-gay flier

Rodriquez Flier (excerpt)

Excerpt from the Rodriquez flier attacking Fonseco for his advocacy for LGBT people and his endorsement by the Houston GLBT Political Caucus (click to view full flier)

Houston Independent School District Trustee Manuel Rodriquez Jr. is under fire for an anti-gay flyer attacking his opponent, Ramiro Fonseca. Both seek the HISD District III seat held by Rodriquez. Rodriquez’s flyer attacks Fonseca for his history of advocating for LGBT people, and his endorsement by the Houston GLBT Political Caucus. The flyer also suggests that Fonseca being 52 and unmarried is a reason that Houstonians should not trust him to make decisions affecting children, and points out that he has a “male partner.”

The GLBT Political Caucus was quick to denounce the flyer, issuing a statement on Saturday. “Manuel Rodriguez is assuming the voters of District III share the same bigoted, hateful views he holds,” said Caucus president Noel Freeman. “Houstonians have proven time and time again that such views are not welcome in our City, and have consistently rejected candidates who espouse such hateful views. We urge the voters of District III to reject Manuel Rodriguez on election day.”

Other HISD Trustees have joined in the chorus of people speaking out against the mailer. “I denounce the reprehensible, mean-spirited, bigoted mailer that was sent out in the HISD, District III race,” Trustee Juliet Katherine Stipeche said via her Facebook wall. “I ask my colleagues to maintain and uphold HISD’s total non-discrimination policy and treat every person, including other candidates, with dignity and respect. Let us embrace diversity and equality and treat every person as we would like ourselves to be treated ” Stipeche is seeking re-election to her district VIII seat.

HISD District I member Anna Eastman echoed Stipeche’s comments. “My fifteen year old son could not comprehend why someone would think that distinction would change a vote for school board and would be used as such by a candidate.”

The GLBT caucus is urging people to contact the editorial board of the Houston Chronicle to encourage them to rescind their endorsement of Rodriquez in light of his campaign tactics.

HISD elections are part of the general elections taking place this Tuesday, Nov 8. Visit HarrisVotes.org to find your voting location and view a sample ballot.

—  admin

Arlington man sentenced to 14 months for hate crime arson at mosque

Henry Clay Glaspell

U.S. District Judge Terry R. Means this week sentenced Henry Clay Glaspell, 34, of Arlington, to 14 months in prison after Gaspell pleaded guilty to a hate crime charge in connection with an arson fire at the children’s playground at the Dar El-Eman Islamic Education Center in Arlington in July 2010, according to this report from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Means ordered Glaspell, who has been free on bond, to surrender to the Bureau of Prisons on Nov. 21.

Glaspell also admitted that he had stolen and damaged some of the mosque’s property, that he had thrown used cat litter at the mosque’s front door and that he had shouted racial and ethnic slurs at people at the mosque on several occasions. Glaspell said his actions were motivated by hatred for people of Arabic or Middle Eastern descent.

Texas legislators passed the James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act, which allows enhanced penalties to be assessed to those convicted of hate crimes. But while hate crimes are frequently reported and labeled as such by law enforcement, prosecutors rarely take hate crimes charges to court for fear that it would be too hard to prove a perpetrator’s bias-based intent to a jury.

—  admin

The Pretty Things Peepshow tonight at The Kessler

Sword swallowing, fire eating and burlesque dancing, oh my

The Pretty Things Peepshow recalls old-timey circuses or better yet, the HBO show Carnivale, which really left viewers hanging. This vintage vaudeville sideshow packs in a whallop of acts into two and a half hours. For a hump day, acts that include electric chairs, animal traps and whip cracking might even outdo the Dallas Eagle. We’re kinda looking forward to the special burlesque dancing which includes a fan dance and spinning fire tassels. For real! You won’t see that on the dance floor at S4.

The show even features the “Midget of Mischief” Lil Miss Firefly who stands just over two feet and performs as the night’s glass walker and straight jacket escape artists. Yeah, there’s too much to miss to not make this show tonight.

DEETS: The Kessler, 1230 W. Davis St. 9 p.m. $15. TheKessler.org.

—  Rich Lopez

Rihanna fans demand refunds after fire ended show; authorities backtrack on cause of blaze

Fans who attended Friday’s Rihanna show at the American Airlines Center — which was cut short by a fire above the stage — have taken to Facebook to demand refunds, WFAA reports.

As we’ve reported, the fire broke out near the end of the show, after Rihanna had performed for well over an hour, so I’d say a full refund is probably asking a little much. But it’s true that she didn’t get a chance to play some of her biggest hits, and if I had paid for my tickets — and if I really liked Rihanna – I might be demanding a refund, too.

Either way, it’s true that the PA announcer told the crowd they’d be compensated when he announced the concert was canceled and asked people to evacuate. Perhaps he was just trying to get them to comply and avoid a bad situation, but he said it, so I think there should be some form of compensation. A free Rihanna album? A discount to her next show in Dallas? Officials reportedly are meeting today to discuss the matter further.

Also, Dallas Fire-Rescue issued a press release this afternoon backtracking from their initial explanation as to how the blaze started. “Initially, the fire was thought to have started when embers from the pyrotechnics ignited a chair near the stage; however, fire investigators have become aware of new information that contradicts that position,” DFR spokesman Jason Evans said in an email this afternoon. “I am waiting on that information and will update the press release if and when I receive it.”

We will, in turn, keep you posted.

UPDATE: Asked what the new information might be, Evans said the following: “For concern that the new information may not be accurate, I don’t want to tell you what they are considering. However, I did just get off the phone with Arson Investigation and they tell me that, despite new information, they have interviewed some key people and are still leaning heavily toward the originally suspected cause.

“I was told that they should be able to confirm something in the next hour or so. I am waiting on a call back and will send updates as soon as I hear something new.”

UPDATE NO. 2: Evans now says that the cause of the fire was as originally suspected:

“I hate that it took this long just to come full circle, but as it turns out the cause of the fire was as originally suspected,” Evans writes. “However, there are some additional details that are included in the release. … Also, since I received some other questions regarding the Brittany Spears concert, I feel I should let you all know that this incident has in no way effected her concert (at least as far as FD is concerned).”

The press release attached to Evans’ email reads as follows: “Fire investigators determined that the fire started when sparks from the pyrotechnics ignited a fabric chair. The chair was situated to a truss member directly above the pyrotechnics display, where it was being used by a person that was controlling the main spotlight. The person operating the light did suffer a minor burn, but decided not to go to the hospital. No citations were issued.”

—  John Wright