1 hurt in SE county house fire

Family of three displaced after fire destroys house

Published On: Jan 30 2013 03:44:16 PM CST   Updated On: Jan 24 2013 04:35:54 PM CST
SAN ANTONIO -

A family of three is without a home after a fire tore through their small, wood-framed rental house in Southeast Bexar County.

The fire broke out Thursday morning near Highway 181 and South Foster Road.

Mike Winfield, chief of China Grove Volunteer Fire and Rescue, said it appears it was an electrical fire that started in a bedroom. Winfield said six area fire departments responded.

“We had to shuttle in water because there aren’t any hydrants available,” Winfield said. “We brought in departments that had tankers available.”

Julio Valdes and his 6-year-old son, Marco, managed to escape the fast-moving fire. Valdes said a fever had kept his son home from school, so he had to wake him, telling him to get out of the house.

However, Valdes suffered a minor burn to his hand after he stayed behind trying to use clothing to smother the flames.

“I think it was the clothes that was burning and it got me,” Valdes said.

He said the fire started soon after his wife left for work. Valdes said he was on the computer working a job application when he heard popping noises coming from his son’s bedroom.

Unemployed since December as a directional driller, Valdes said he actually took a call on his cell phone from a potential employer about a possible job.

Valdes said he told her, “'You know what? My house is on fire. I can’t talk to you for a minute.'”

He said the caller promised they would talk later.

Valdes said they lost everything and had no rental insurance, but at least for now, they’re staying with friends and volunteers with the American Red Cross offered help with their basic needs.

Rodrigo Charo, the landlord, said he feels badly for Valdes, who he described as a good tenant.

“He’s done a lot of improvements for me and he’s very reliable,” Charo said.

Staying with friends for now, having lost everything, Valdes said he remains grateful.

He said, “My son is OK. I’m OK. Everybody’s OK.”