Natural gas leak at house fire adds to firefighters' woes

North side family lost home, 2 cars


A natural gas leak caused extra trouble for firefighters battling an intense fire at a home on Serenade Drive, on San Antonio's North side, Thursday morning.

The homeowner said he woke up to the smell of smoke shortly before 5 a.m., then noticed flames coming from his garage.

Within minutes, he said, the home in the 800 block of Serenade Drive had caught fire too.

The man quickly got out, along with his wife, grandson and dog.

Firefighters, meanwhile, went in, trying to tackle the flames.

"There were several places that firefighters were starting to report that they were putting out fire but it would fire right back up and there would be blue flames," said Battalion Chief Jonathan Jones, with the San Antonio Fire Department.

Jones said the flames were blue because of natural gas which was seeping from an open line.

He said the decision was made to pull firefighters out of the home and have them attack the fire from outside.

"We were hampered because the electric service coming from the utility pole was burned through and draped over the gas feed to the house," Jones said.

They also had to work to keep the flames from spreading to the other nearby homes, Jones said.

Ben Jaramillo lives next door and got out with his family as soon as the fire came uncomfortably close.

"It was pretty scary, especially to see your house starting to smoke," Jaramillo said. "By the time we were running out the door, you could already feel the heat, you know? It was really going up real quick."

Firefighters spared his home from destruction, but it did sustain a bit of damage.

The heat caused Jaramillo's windows to crack, and the paint on the side of the home, to bubble up.

The people in the home where the fire started, though, lost much more.

The home and the couple's two cars were destroyed.

However, Jones said that even with the challenges they faced in battling the fire, firefighters were able to save some of the family's most prized possessions from harm.

"Some very personal and intimate items to them, family memorabilia and that type of stuff, that we were able to get out of the house," Jones said.

Arson investigators were called to the scene.

However, Jones said it appeared the fire was electrical in nature.

A slideshow is embedded here.

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