Arson investigators looking for cause of fire that damaged 11 cars

Firefighters say wind spread flames

By Katrina Webber - Crime Fighters Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - San Antonio arson investigators are working to determine what caused a fire that damaged nearly a dozen cars at a West Side apartment complex.

Firefighters were called to The Preserve at the Port apartments, located in the 300 block of Gillmore Avenue, shortly after 3 a.m. Thursday.

They found what appeared to be a fire ball under a carport toward the back of the complex.

“We saw five vehicles fully involved at this apartment complex. We immediately called for backup units,” said Lt. Edward Olmo with the San Antonio Fire Department.

Those crews faced a tough battle as the flames continued to spread.

Before long, all seven cars under that carport had been touched directly by the fire.

The heat melted lights and other parts on four more cars under a carport across the aisle.

“I think the wind had a lot to do with it,” Olmo said. “Once that first vehicle took off, it affected the others.”

Juan Escobedo was asleep in his apartment clear across the complex when he heard a commotion that he says sounded like someone shooting.

“I heard popping. I guess the tires were blowing up and gas tanks and stuff,” he said. “I thought it was gunfire.”

Firefighters were able to knock down the fire relatively quickly.

Arson investigators then began going through the rubble, looking for clues, and interviewing neighbors about what they saw. Many of the cars were burned far beyond repair.

Escobedo says the damage was so severe that he couldn’t even read the vehicle identification numbers on some of the cars.

“We checked the windshield. We checked inside the door frame,” he said. “It was just too far gone.”

Investigators did not seem to find anything right away to tell them how the fire started.

Escobedo says they consider the cause to be “undetermined” at this time.

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