SAN ANTONIO -

The neighbor of a woman who suffered burns in an explosion and fire at her South Side home fears some of the woman’s pets may have perished in the fire.

Joe Gonzales said he heard that explosion around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday at the house next door to his, in the 2400 block of W. Gerald Avenue.

When he looked out his window, he made a disturbing discovery.

"We ran out and you could see the whole flame of fire back there,” Gonzales said. “I mean, big old flames of fire. And then she opened the door and she started walking."

Gonzales said the woman who lives in the home appeared to be in shock, and was badly injured.

"She right away said, 'My hands! My hands! My face! My face!’” Gonzales recalled. “And I just held her right there."

He said he dialed 911 and waited with his neighbor for paramedics and firefighters to arrive.

The woman was rushed to San Antonio Military Medical Center for treatment.

Firefighters, meanwhile, knocked down the flames.

Still, the fire destroyed the home and most of its contents.

Firefighters said the woman told them she had gotten up to use the restroom with a lit cigarette in her hand.

Investigators suspect there may have been a gas build-up inside the home which led to the explosion.

"The burns were to her hands and face and were consistent with maybe a pilot light going out, the spark from the cigarette lighter igniting the gas,” said Battalion Chief Jacob Mendiola, with the San Antonio Fire Department.

Gonzales said, at one point, he had to stop the woman from running back into her burning home.

"She was in shock and she wanted to go in there, you know, and get her cats out but I told her no," he said.

Gonzales said in addition to several cats, his neighbor also had two dogs, one of which had recently given birth to puppies.

Several hours later, the adult dogs emerged from the rubble, but there was no sign of the puppies.

Hours after the fire was put out, workers with CPS Energy returned to the scene and spent several hours inside the home, apparently looking for the source of the problem.

Fire investigators determined the fire was accidental.

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