Fire destroys Christmas plans for low-income family living west of downtown

Arson team investigating

SAN ANTONIO – Eneida Arriaga recalls the moment she returned from picking up her father and siblings from school and then realizing her home at the Alazan-Apache Apartments complex was destroyed by fire.

"I was heartbroken," she said. "I just started crying. I didn't know what to think."

Arriaga wonders if a simple attempt to make the home more presentable may have started the fire.

"They shut off our water, so it kind of smelled in the restroom. We lit two candles, one upstairs and one downstairs," Arriaga said.

The San Antonio Housing Authority said candles are not permitted in the units and there is no sprinkler system. A Christmas tree was also lit up when Arriaga left.

Arson investigators are looking into what caused the blaze.

"Everything burned down pretty much," Arriaga said.

Arriaga just moved into the home a year and a half ago with her husband, her 2-year-old daughter and her 5-year-old son. Her father tried to make the family's Christmas a happy one.

"I just bought them an X-Box for the little ones and stuff and some other stuff we had given them," said Juan Arriaga, Eneida Arriaga's father.

With little money coming in, just weeks before Christmas, Eneida Arriaga said she'll do what she can to salvage their holiday.

"Try to go to work, I don't know. Try to start over. Just going to try to start over. That's all I can do," she said.

The mother said she can't afford a babysitter and knows the next few weeks will be rough.

The family has no idea where they're going to live but said the Red Cross has stepped in to help with temporary shelter. 

Eneida Arriaga said the silver lining is that no one was hurt.

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