SAN ANTONIO – The new year brought with it temperatures that struggled to crack the freezing mark and residents across the seventh largest city in the country worked to stay warm.
It has also added to the fire danger. Since Jan. 1, firefighters have been working around the clock.
San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood said Wednesday that in just over 48 hours, from midnight on Jan 1 to 7 a.m. Wednesday, they've had 36 structure fire calls, 17 of those working fires.
"It's been very busy for us," Hood said. "This has resulted in 270 unit responses, which means 270 ambulances, fire trucks, command vehicles that responded on these incidents over the last couple of days."
Arnold Hilton Gibbons, 75, was killed Tuesday in a house fire on Belmont.
Neighbors said they found him inside and his clothes in flames.
"Unfortunately, it looked like it was either a cooking accident or a heating accident," the chief said. "We still don't know, but we do know that he had some type of baggy clothing on and that is something that we continue to stress with our seniors to make sure that you don't have those big flowing house coats on."
Hood also reminded people to take precautions during these cold winter nights by not using improper heating techniques, such as a stove or oven. He also stressed people to keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet from heating equipment such as a furnace, a fireplace or portable space heaters.
"We continue to encounter challenges as far as space heaters with people not having that radius of 3 feet, making sure they are not plugged into power cords and making sure they are plugged into the walls," Hood said.
The president of The Burned Out Survivors' Fund, Morris Munoz, said when it gets so cold there are more fires and more families that need help, but that they are there to provide monetary assistance to these families.
"It’s just a short-term quick relief for them because a lot of times these people will lose their personal belongings in the fire," Munoz said. "It's to help them get back on their feet."
Munoz said they have 19 pending applications since Christmas and that they rely on contributions, a majority of that coming from San Antonio firefighters.
Anyone interested in donating can call the nonprofit at 210-472-1717.