Home leveled by flames as firefighters struggled to get enough water to extinguish fire

Neighbors say fire hydrant had no water

SAN ANTONIO – A south Bexar County family of five lost their home Tuesday as they watched firefighters struggle to find enough water to put out the fire.

The fire happened around 3:30 p.m. at a home on Whispering Winds Drive near Highway 281 and Loop 1604. Neighbors who rushed to try and put out the fire with shovels were relieved to see firefighters arriving, but that turned into frustration, says Linda Ailscie, a neighbor.

“I had to yell at one firefighter, ‘There’s no water in those hydrants,”” she said, pointing to a hydrant nearby.

She said they watched as the firefighters ran out of water from the tankers arriving and had to run hoses from a hydrant. which was about three-tenths of a mile away.  “They didn’t have enough hoses to run up the street to even put out the fire.”

Bexar County Fire District 2 Battalion Chief Ryan Crady said that was one of the many obstacles firefighters had to overcome trying to put out the fire.

The home was filled with items inside and out, making it difficult to reach the fire, he said.

“We can only do what we can do with what we have until we can get the water supply that we need,” he explained.

“They were doing what they could with what they had but they had nothing. The fire just burned,” Ailscie said.

Crews had to use two engines and a third truck to make the hose connection to the hydrant.

About 30,000 gallons of water were used to try and fight the fire, but the home was still lost.

“It is frustrating when that happens we don’t like to see people lose their homes or people lose their property,” Crady said, adding that the hydrant problems have been plaguing the area for years. “Hopefully it gets taken care of soon."

Neighbors hope so too. They say the latest fire has them in fear their home will be next. 

“We pay our water bills. We pay our taxes. We want what we deserve," Ailscie said.

The family impacted did not want to speak, but said they lost everything. They have three children.

KSAT reached out to the commissioner who represented that district and SAWS to find out what’s delaying fire hydrants from being installed or fixed. A request for comment was not immediately returned Tuesday night.

Editor's Note: A previous version of this story erroneously stated the fire hydrant was about a mile away. It has since been changed to three-tenths of a mile away.

About the Author:

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.