A fire that destroyed a vacant house on San Antonio’s West Side, and threatened the home of an 85-year-old man, is believed to be the result of arson.
Christian Bove, spokesman for the San Antonio Fire Department, said the exact cause of the fire is still under investigation.
But he said arson investigators -- early on -- had labeled it suspicious.
Neighbors in the 300 block of Remolino Street called 911 around 6:30 a.m. Thursday after noticing smoke and flames coming from the vacant house.
Teresa Aguirre was taking out the trash at the time, and quickly thought about an elderly neighbor who lives in the home next door to the one that was on fire.
“I ran inside and I told my daughter, 'Wake up!’” she said. "Then I ran over there and I knocked on the window real hard and said, 'Compadre! Compadre! Get out!’"
While Aguirre was ushering Raymundo Castro, 85, to safety, other neighbors joined in the effort to protect his home.
"I started to wet down the house so it wouldn't catch his house on fire,” said Bruce Cox, who quickly grabbed his garden hose to douse the flames.
During the effort, the neighbors risked their own safety as a live power line, downed by the fire, dangerously sparked nearby.
Thanks to the group’s actions, Castro’s house made it through with only a cracked window from the heat.
One of Castro’s relatives said she’s grateful that, not only will he have a place to live, but that he will live to see his 86th birthday next month.
The vacant home, meanwhile, burned to the ground, and neighbors said they’re not exactly sorry to see it go.
"It's been vacant for 10 years,” Cox said. “There's a lot of drug addicts in the neighborhood, and that's what they were using it for.”