Neighbors happy after troubled home burns down

Home had history of drug abuse

SAN ANTONIO – Usually a neighborhood house fire isn't cause for celebration, but Thursday that is exactly what neighbors did. Firefighters are working on an emergency demolition for an East Side home destroyed in a fire.

Firefighters are worried trespassers might enter the home, which they consider to be dangerous. Police and neighbors said the property has a history of drug abuse.

About 5:30 p.m., four San Antonio Fire Department engines fought the flames shooting into the sky from the large two-story home located at the corner of Martin Luther King Drive and Ferguson Avenue.

Firefighters fought the fire with hoses on the ground and a ladder in the air, dousing the old house with streams of foam and water.

Leslie Rothe lives next door. She isn't frightened by the flames being so close by. She said she's happy.

"(It’s) a crack house," said Rothe, describing what the home was known for in the neighborhood.

In her six years living in the area, Rothe said people have come and gone from the vacant home.

A police officer confirmed to KSAT 12 what Rothe said she saw, drug abusers using it to smoke synthetic marijuana, an epidemic the city acknowledged this week.

"I've called the police, I've called code compliance. Nothing ever happens. I just hope nothing bad happened in there," Rothe said.

Rothe's husband said the man who owned the place used the downstairs part of the house as an office.

Rothe’s husband said people have showed interest in purchasing the home. One prospective buyer was thinking of turning it into a bed and breakfast. A San Antonio historical society showed interest in renovating it. When the owner passed away four months ago, he said that's when the drug use started.

"It is scary though, because you don't know what's next door to you," Rothe said.

An arson unit is investigating, but because it's dangerous to enter, firefighters say they may never find the cause of the fire.

Since the home is a total loss and a danger to the community, the fire chief said there will be an emergency demolition. The home should be flattened in days.

"I'm sure sometimes fire's kind of an urban renewal for people," San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood said.