What had been a group home for mentally challenged men is now empty, its front door and second story windows blackened by the smoke and fire that killed three residents and left another critically burned.
“They were friendly and polite and gentlemanly,” said Blaine Russell, who lives across the street. “So it is very upsetting, very heartbreaking, very tragic.”
Sharon Garcia, another neighbor, said it was not uncommon to hear shouting coming from the house in the 300 block of Norwood.
Garcia said when she opened the front door to check, “There were flames pouring out of the second floor already.”
Charles Hood, San Antonio fire chief, said that is where his firefighters discovered four men in cardiac arrest ranging in age from 23 to 65.
Only one survived and is reported to be in critical condition at SAMMC.
Hood said one of the residents discovered a fire smoldering in a first floor closet, that soon spread to the nearby stairwell. He said how it started is under investigation.
Instead of calling 911, Hood said, “It appears what they tried to do is fight the fire.”
Garcia said she saw one of the residents using a garden hose aimed at stairwell.
Nancy Murrah, the owner of the Amistad group home who lives next door, said many of her residents had lived there for years.
“They even called me mom. They’re like my sons,” Murrah said.