SAN ANTONIO – A single knock on his bedroom door is what changed 62-year-old William Golden’s life as he would soon learn that he’d lose his home, his dog and his roommate he said was like a brother to him.
The fire broke out in the 900 block of Saddlebrook Drive. San Antonio fire officials say they got the call after midnight Sunday and were told by an unidentified person that a home was up in flames, but that all of the residents made it out safely. However, when they got to the scene, they found a 64-year-old man deceased in a bathroom of the home.
“He moved in, I believe, in late August,” Golden said. “I knew him because we used to work together but we would always get up early on the weekends. I just remember it was around 7:30 that night when he said he was going to go to bed early because he had to get up early for work.”
Golden said he was in his room across the hallway from his roommate’s room when everything began to happen so suddenly.
“I was watching TV and then I heard him banging on my door and I heard him scream ‘Fire!’ I opened my door and I didn’t see any flames but I saw a lot of smoke. It was really intense,” Golden said.
He said he immediately ran outside and grabbed the water hose.
“All I could think of and concentrate on was putting the fire out,” Golden said. “So I sprayed all across the top of the house and at one time I looked in the window and I saw flames in the rooms so I started squirting the water through the window.”
Shortly later, Golden said the fire officials arrived.
“When they showed up I thought, ‘They have the big hoses to put this out so everything was going to be fine.’ That is all I could concentrate on and while they were spraying they told me to stand across the street,” Golden said. "The next thing I know, my roommate, my friend, was laying out there in the front. I think they pulled him out of there but they were trying to revive him and I asked them ‘How my friend was doing?’ They told me that it wasn’t looking too good for him.”
Golden later learned that not only had his roommate died, but his dog of 8 years as well.
“She was red with a white stripe on her face,” Golden said. “She was like a watchdog and usually she would bark when she heard something going on. She started barking before the fire happened but I just didn’t pay attention to her then and now I think she was trying to tell me about the fire.”
Golden said one of his roommate’s cats died as well.
“My friend, I think, got trapped and he was trying to save his animals, his two cats, but he stayed too long,” Golden said. “He lost his life trying to save his animals so that tells you what kind of guy he was.”
Golden said his roommate was a great guy.
“He was very kind,” Golden said. “Very hard working. He kept to himself and loved his privacy. He was like my brother because he was two years older than me and would help me anytime I needed it so when they told me he didn't make it really hurt in here.”
Golden said he felt lost and as if he was dreaming due to the devastating losses.
“I was just in shock,” Golden said. “I say, man, I wish I could go back to five or six o’clock in the afternoon that day when everything was just fine. But in just a few hours, a nightmare happened. A tragedy. You just never know what is ahead of you. It could happen to anybody. It can happen to me or anybody.”
Golden, whose parents lived in that home since 1977, said he lost almost everything except a couple of old photo albums. He said though the memories of his home meant a lot to him, nothing can come close to the lives he lost.
“My biggest concern now is trying to get in touch with my friend’s family,” Golden said. “He is not from here. He is from Iowa and I can’t figure out a way to tell his family what happened.”
He said he can only move on now and work to rebuild, but in the meantime, he will be staying with someone and receiving assistance from the American Red Cross until he can get back on his feet.
“It was just like a major blow,” Golden said. “My dog, my friend, my house. What else? We don't always know why things happen. God doesn’t tell us everything why. We just have to trust and believe and I am sure he will open doors in my path. I have been in tight spots before and he has always been faithful. That is the God I know.”