High winds across San Antonio fuel fires, knock down trees, power lines

Parts of San Antonio River damaged, CPS Energy reports thousands lost power


High winds fueled fires across the San Antonio area Monday that led to burned homes, burned property, evacuations and thousands of power outages.

As of 10 p.m., fire crews continued to battle a large grass fire in south Bexar County.

Close to a dozen homes on Peaceful Lane near Pleasanton Road were evacuated as crews from 10 area fire departments were called to help fight the blaze.

"We are still working, they are still trying to get into some brushy areas. They are still trying to use some track loaders and some front end loaders to cut some fire breaks," said Bexar County Fire Marshal Craig Roberts.

Fire officials said one structure and two cars burned to the ground. No injuries were reported, however, several people were not allowed back into their homes Monday night.

"Law enforcement came in and said you know what, you need to get out so we had to pull out of the property," said resident Orlando Ramos.

A shelter was set up for residents at the Southside High School-9th Grade Academy on Highway 281 South.

The strong winds also wreaked havoc on one stretch of the San Antonio River.

The F.I.S.H. art installation, which sits under the Camden Street bridge, was damaged.

The east and west banks of the river were closed from Camden to Jones Avenue because "several pieces of the F.I.S.H. are broken and could possibly fall and hurt people that are walking by," the San Antonio River Authority said on its Facebook page. There was no word Monday evening when the area reopened.

Downed power lines and power poles were a major concern across the area.

The upper level of Interstate 35 was closed Monday afternoon in both directions near the McCullough exit downtown for several hours due to a leaning power pole. By 6 p.m., the interstate had re-opened.

Other reports indicated that the high winds knocked over power lines near Culebra Road and Pipers Creek.

Two lines started drooping and that led to wires hanging very low over the road -- to the point where certain trucks were not able to get through -- so they closed the road down temporarily to keep drivers safe.

CPS Energy spokeswoman Yvonne Casanova said over 30,000 customers were affected by the winds.

Casanova said if people see downed power lines, they should stay away from them and contact CPS Energy at 210-353-4357.

"Power lines might sometimes be live if they aren't disconnected on the other side," she said. "They might see a power line but it might still be live connected somewhere else so we don't anybody to touch that power line. Sometimes people feel if they fall on their cars, they want to remove them. Again, please do not do that and call CPS Energy."

The outages caused problems at the Quarry Market, where stores were unable to conduct business for about an hour until power was restored.

Judson High School also reported no electricity. Judson ISD spokesman Steve Linscomb said that the school was using backup power for essentials and instruction and lunches were continuing on as "normal as possible."  

As of 3 a.m. Tuesday, the CPS Energy power outage map reported just over 70 outages affecting 1,086 customers.

A red flag warning for much of South Texas was in effect until 7 p.m. and a wind advisory was in place until 10 p.m.

Wind gusts were reported as high as 40 mph in town and 50 mph to the west and northwest.

High winds slideshow