PHOTOS: The fire at Rainbow Lounge and what it left behind

Photos of the 3 a.m. fire that destroyed Fort Worth’s iconic Rainbow Lounge, by Peter Matthews.

 

Photos of what the fire left behind, by Tammye Nash

—  Tammye Nash

VIDEO: Rainbow Lounge fire — the aftermath

This video showing the aftermath of the Rainbow Lounge fire, 651 S. Jennings Ave., in Fort Worth, was shot shortly before 8:30 a.m. today (Thursday, June 1).

Police tape cordoned off the front and south sides of the building. On the north side the police tape blocked off that section of West Hattie Street, also, allowing onlookers no closer than the parking lot outside The Last Word bookstore on the other side of West Hattie. Fort Worth police officers sat in vehicles on Jennings and May Street, which runs parallel to Jennings on the east side.

As the video shows, the roof of the building is completely gone. The brick wall on the south side had already begun to collapse in some places, damaging a car that was left parked next to the building there. Amazingly, the car showed no obvious signs of fire damage. And from what was visible of the side and back patio areas through cracks in the fences and a hole broken in the back fence, those areas also showed little fire damage.

The brick wall on the north side appeared on the verge of collapse; huge cracks criss-crossed the wall, which had bowed outward significantly. Water streamed heavily from between the base of the brick walls and the concrete foundation in several places, and the smell of smoke permeated the air, as people drove by slowly, shooting photos and videos with their phones. Others parked to walk around what remained of the building, with a couple even picking up bricks that had fallen outside the confines of the police tape, souvenirs of what had become an iconic landmark in the history of the LGBT civil rights movement in Texas and the country.

—  Tammye Nash

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