19th century home near downtown torched by arsonist

It may have been the oldest in historic Lavaca Neighborhood

Author: Katrina Webber, Reporter, kwebber@ksat.com
Published On: Aug 22 2013 12:23:41 PM CDT   Updated On: Aug 22 2013 01:30:09 PM CDT
SAN ANTONIO -

A house in San Antonio’s historic Lavaca Neighborhood, which appears to have been torched by an arsonist, was built in the late 1800s, according to the city’s Office of Historic Preservation.

Director Shanon Miller said the home may have been the oldest one that’s still standing in one of San Antonio’s oldest neighborhoods.

"It was built about 1870. It's one of the original ... caliche block houses in the neighborhood," Miller said.

The house, with its windows boarded up, had stood vacant for several years.

Shortly before 5 a.m. Thursday, someone apparently tried to burn it down by setting fire to it.

“We just got here to see about a 20-foot flame coming out of that roof,” said Battalion Chief Gabe Ortega, with the San Antonio Fire Department. “There are no utilities, no gas, no electric. So something started that fire."

Arson investigators were called to the scene to try to determine who or what might be behind the blaze.

Frank Hernandez, who lives in a nearby high rise apartment building, said he knew instantly that the fire was no accident.

He called 911 after spotting the flames from his window.

“I’ve never seen anyone going in that house in the 6 ½ years I’ve lived here,” Hernandez said. “It’s definitely arson.”

The fire destroyed everything but the four outer walls.

Still, Miller is hopeful this will not be the end of this piece of history.

"The walls are still standing and, certainly, salvageable, so we're still hopeful that the house will be reused,” she said.

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