NE Bexar County family safe, home lost due to fire

Family feared dead found safe in Houston

A ruptured gas line is to blame for a fire that damaged two homes in northeast Bexar County.
A ruptured gas line is to blame for a fire that damaged two homes in northeast Bexar County.

A Northeast Bexar County family whom neighbors feared might have perished inside their burned home has been found safe in Houston.

Firefighters from five different agencies responded to the blaze in the 8100 block of Whistler, near Goya Street, after 2 a.m. Monday.

They found the home engulfed in flames, and quickly saw fire spread to the roof of the home next door and rupture a gas line.

Fire Marshal Craig Roberts said the initial home then collapsed and injured two firefighters.

"Both minor," Roberts said. "Both firefighters have been transported, one with an injured ankle, another one with heat exhaustion."

Neighbors told firefighters they feared the owner of the collapsed home, who they identified as Chester Dominguez, and his two children might be inside the ruins.

But it would be hours before the site had cooled down enough for fire investigators to be able to conduct a search.

Beverly Allen was one of several neighbors who stood by, nervously waiting for word.

She said although the family had gone to Houston for the weekend, they were due back home yesterday.

"I keep calling him over and over but he hasn't answered his phone," Allen said early Monday morning. "It's very agonizing not knowing where they are and hope to God that they're not in there."

About an hour later, Allen received a phone call from Dominguez telling her he and his children had stayed an extra night in Houston.

Another neighbor, Bonnie Muller, said while she was glad to hear the family safe, she had the tough job of telling Dominguez that his home had been destroyed.

"He basically said that he didn't know what to do, he didn't know where to go because the kids don't have anything to come back to," Muller said.

"And I told him, 'Don't worry about that. We'll get together as a community and take care of that," she said.

The neighbors said once Dominguez returns to town, they'll figure out how best to help him.

Investigators said it could be a while before they know what caused the fire.

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