Seniors, disabled residents forced to evacuate during high-rise apartment fire

1 person taken to SAMMC

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SAN ANTONIO – Many seniors and disabled people were forced to evacuate their homes after a high-rise fire on Fair Avenue.

The fire happened at the Fair Avenue Apartments complex on Fair Avenue, just east of South New Braunfels Avenue.

The fire was contained to one unit. The person who lives there was taken to San Antonio Military Medical Center.

After the fire was extinguished, crews went unit by unit to make sure it was safe. Residents waited outside for hours, visibly shaken.

“I couldn’t see my exit door,” said Clyde Wilson, who was in his seventh-floor apartment when a neighbor told him there was a fire next door. “You couldn't see in front of your face. You could smell rubber burning, plastic, that's what made the smoke so toxic. It’s still in my nose.”

Wilson’s neighbor needed medical attention right away.

“He was lying flat on the balcony,” Wilson said.

Wilson got out safely and told firefighters where to find the injured man, who was then taken to the hospital with priority one injuries.

There are 11 floors and more than 200 units in the building.

“The thing is a lot of people cannot walk. They need wheelchairs,” said Daniel Gonzalez.

“In this situation, we left a lot of people above the fire. Ninth, eighth floor, we didn't have to move them, but others we did have to physically move,” San Antonio fire Chief Charles Hood said.

At least 25 fire engines responded in what could have been a significant fire.

“This building doesn’t have sprinklers,” Hood said.

The chief said the Fire Department is pushing for all high rises to get sprinkler systems. The complex was built before it was required to have them,

Residents said they have a lot of fire alarms that go off often, but it’s rarely ever serious.

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