Resident loses belongings, 2 dogs in duplex fire north of downtown

Man to be displaced for a while, officials say

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SAN ANTONIO – Two dogs are dead and a resident is displaced after a fire ripped through a duplex just north of downtown.

The fire happened on Rex Street near McCullough Avenue.When fire crews arrived at the scene Sunday afternoon, they found two dogs dead in the home.

The homeowner, 65-year-old Len Matejek, was in disbelief after finding out he lost his belongings and his dogs. 

Matejek had lived in the duplex for more than three years. Now his home is charred from the inside out.

"I am still in shock. Everything in the house is gone, so I got to start all over again," he said.

Not knowing Matejek was working at a nearby church when the flames ignited, his neighbors called first responders.

Initially, crews thought someone was inside the building, so they treated the fire as a rescue. In addition to the hot temperature outside, firefighters had another obstacle on their hands, and that was dealing with the bars on the windows.

“We call it softening the structure, where we have crews on the outside still while we have crews on the inside trying to pop those bars off to the windows to facilitate. If they needed to hop out of a window, they can. If a resident is still in there, it gives them the opportunity to get out,” said Stephen Ruston, with the San Antonio Fire Department.

Matejek lost his Dalmation named Speckie, and his boxer mix, named Rowdy, in the fire.

"I left the A/C on for them because they are my dogs, but it doesn't look like it did any good," he said. "They didn't make it. They found them under the futon in the living room."

Matejek was told that the fire may have started from an electrical outlet in the front of the home.

Officials said the fire caused at least $50,000 worth of damage to the duplex, with the right side of the building taking most of the heat.

Matejek said he will be staying with friends until he can get back on his feet. 

"I am a little bit older than what I may look, so I have had some bad things happen to me. I deal with them one day at a time," he said.

Fire investigators have not yet determined the cause of the fire. The arson unit was called to the scene.

About the Author:

Japhanie Gray is a reporter with KSAT12 News.