Fire at Chinese Consulate in Houston due to classified documents being burned ahead of eviction

Police say a fire that was reported at the Chinese Consulate in Houston Tuesday evening was the result of classified documents being burned.

The call about a fire at the building located in the 3400 block Montrose came in around 8:20 p.m.

Houston fire and police departments responded to the scene but were not allowed entry into the building.

Because it is a consulate, it falls under Chinese sovereignty allowing them to deny anyone access.

Houston police tell FOX 26 that they were burning classified documents because they are being evicted from the building on Friday at 4 p.m.

In a statement, State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus confirmed that the U.S. ordered the consulate to close.

“The Vienna Convention states diplomats must ‘respect the laws and regulations of the receiving State' and 'have a duty not to interfere in the internal affairs of that State.’ The United States will not tolerate the PRC’s violations of our sovereignty and intimidation of our people, just as we have not tolerated the PRC’s unfair trade practices, theft of American jobs, and other egregious behavior. President Trump insists on fairness and reciprocity in U.S.-China relations,” the statement says. “We have directed the closure of PRC Consulate General Houston, in order to protect American intellectual property and American’s private information.”

The consulate was informed of the decision Tuesday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said, calling it “an outrageous and unjustified move that will sabotage relations between the two countries.”

“The unilateral closure of China’s consulate general in Houston within a short period of time is an unprecedented escalation of its recent actions against China,” Wang said at a daily news briefing in Beijing.

He warned of firm countermeasures if the U.S. does not reverse itself. Besides its embassy in Beijing, the U.S. has five consulates in mainland China, according to its website. They are in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Wuhan and Shenyang.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.