SAN ANTONIO -

Flame and smoke can put up a tough battle, but lately, fire is not the only contender San Antonio firefighters have been facing at emergency scenes.

They said people can also create hurdles for them at a time when mere seconds make a big difference.

For example, at the scene of a mobile home fire on Crestway Drive last Thursday, firefighters were not able to see a fire hydrant that was steps away from a burning home.

A driver had parked her van in front of the hydrant, hiding it from view.

Instead of connecting their hoses there, firefighters spent precious time hooking into one down the street.

In the end, the people who live in the home lost everything, including some of their pets.

A police officer at the scene issued a citation to the owner of the van.

"People typically know that they're not supposed to park in front of a fire hydrant, but in a hurry or a rush, they'll do that anyway,” said Deborah Foster, spokeswoman for SAFD. "We will find another way to access water for that fire, but that does delay our time in putting that water on that fire."

Foster said the hurdles that firefighters face don’t end with hydrants.

She said people often park in fire lanes, which is a violation of a city ordinance.

Then, there are other obstacles, such as trees or trash on people’s properties. Sometimes, people themselves can get in the way, Foster said.

"Of course, people want to know what's going on,” she said. “They'll get in their cars or they'll walk and surround those emergency scenes."

"If they're driving, they're not allowing our vehicles to get where we need to be. If they're walking, then there could be safety issues,” Foster said.

She recommends giving firefighters, and fire hydrants, enough space to do their jobs.

City code states that drivers must park at least 15 feet from a hydrant.