Defenders investigate response to Leon Valley fire

Blaze claims life of Chanelle Reyes, 31

By Myra Arthur - Anchor/Reporter
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LEON VALLEY - A woman frantically called 911 around 1:02 a.m., July 5, reporting that a woman burned herself in a fire at the Forest Oaks Apartments located at 6313 Evers Road.

The caller can be heard shouting "there's a fire and the girl burned herself. Just send somebody- quick!"

Recordings obtained by KSAT 12 of radio transmissions between first responders and a dispatcher reveal the dispatcher on duty that night alerted firefighters that the woman was injured.

The Leon Valley Fire Department rushed one fire engine and one truck to the scene, but did not send an ambulance from its own fire station.

A firefighter can be heard roughly six minutes into the radio transmission requesting the dispatcher call Acadian, the private EMS company that has a mutual aid agreement with Leon Valley.

Nine minutes later, a firefighter radios, "command to dispatch, do we have Acadian coming?"

The dispatcher replies, "calling them now."

When KSAT 12 questioned the time it took for the dispatcher to call Acadian, Police Chief Randall Wallace said there was only one dispatcher on duty that night handling multiple calls and responsibilities.

The city is trying to hire a second full-time dispatcher. The position is currently being filled by other city staff, according to Wallace.

Acadian tells KSAT 12 they received the call from Leon Valley at 1:18 a.m. and were on scene at 1:33 a.m.

The company provided two ambulances in response to the fire. The first to arrive transported Chanelle Reyes, 31, to a hospital where she later died from thermal injuries, according to the Bexar County Medical Examiner.

The city of Shavano Park also supplied an ambulance.

Six LVFD firefighters were on duty in the early morning hours of July 5. That is the minimum "generally" required to be on duty at any given time, according to the department's Operations Manual.

"We respond, again, to the priority which in this case was a fully occupied building with people sleeping," said LVFD Chief, Luis Valdez, when asked why LVFD did not send an ambulance from its own station. "Our priority is going to get everybody out."

Valdez says the six firefighters on duty were not enough to operate an engine, truck and ambulance.

"We have to prioritize because of that manpower, because of that staffing," he said.

Firefighters from Castle Hills, Helotes and Balcones Heights also responded to the fire.

"Its just one of those things where we have to call in additional resources and manage it as best we can," Valdez said.

The Bexar County fire marshal is still investigating the cause of the fire.

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