SAN ANTONIO – Members of a Northwest Side family said they were doing what most people in San Antonio did at some point overnight — turning on the heat in their apartment — when a fireball erupted in their home.
Lee Ann Kasan’s sister lives in the ground floor unit in the 4900 block of Woodstone Drive. She said her sister was attempting to warm up the home she shares with her son. However, when she turned on their central heating unit about 4 a.m. Saturday, it became blazing hot.
"(Flames) shot through the vents,” she said. “They said it was like when you turn a blowtorch on, and it shot through every vent of the house.”
"Ten seconds later and she would've been in the shower,” Kasan said. “(Her son) was in his room, and they would've been stuck.”
Most of the fire was in a hallway of the ground floor apartment, just outside the bathroom and the son’s bedroom. The fire left every vent in the apartment either partially melted or blackened with soot.
Before firefighters were able to put it out, flames had spread into the walls and through the roof of the apartment building.
Neighbors had to leave their homes in the middle of the night. At least one other unit, the one directly upstairs from the one where the fire started, also sustained heavy damage.
Fire investigators said, in all, the damage totaled about $150,000.
Kasan, along with other relatives, spent most of Saturday afternoon, sloshing across water-soaked carpets to pack up her sister’s property. She said her sister was at the home of another relative, recovering from the shock and stress caused by the fire.
"She's upset, of course. She's lived here most of her life,” Kasan said. “Now she's staying with us until we figure something out."
Kasan said despite the heavy damage to the home, her sister feels lucky that the losses weren’t greater, and that everyone got out safely.
At one point, the family’s cat was missing, but Kasan said they found it unhurt.