State investigators look into San Antonio group home fatal fire

Amistad Residential Facility said it didn't provide licensed services

SAN ANTONIO - State and city investigators are looking into a group home fire that killed three people at the Amistad Residential Facility just north of downtown San Antonio Wednesday night.

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The group home caught fire at around 10:30 p.m., killing three residents and injuring at least one other person. The home housed men with mental disabilities.

According to the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services, the facility was licensed until September 2010—when their Type-E license was no longer available. A Type-E license was for homes that did not provide substantial assistance for residents, so licensing was not required for this home. Still, Department of Aging and Disability Service investigators were on the scene.

"We are on the site today investigating to find out whether or not that facility should be licensed as an assisted living facility," Cecelia Cavuto, with the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services, said.

She said homes that provide certain services, such as dressing, bathing and feeding, have to be licensed. The facility wasn't licensed, claiming those services weren't provided.

Since February 2011, San Antonio police have received more than 24 calls regarding the Amistad facility, regarding everything from loud music to missing persons to assaults. Nancy Murrah has owned Amistad for 10 years and defended the rights of its residents—she said to her, it wasn't just a business.

"It's a place for them to live because their family doesn't want them around or because they're old enough to be on their own and they have to have a place to live," Murrah said.

The state cannot sanction unlicensed facilities, but if they fail to cooperate, the cases can be referred to law enforcement.


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