Cibolo police sergeant loses everything in house fire, encourages others to value family

Christopher Soto said it took less than ten minutes for flames to rip through his entire home

Christopher Soto said it took less than ten minutes for flames to rip through his entire home

SAN ANTONIO – A Cibolo police sergeant who lost everything to a house fire Sunday is hoping his story encourages others to appreciate how valuable their family is.

Christopher Soto has been living in the Timberwood community on Oracle Drive for about four years. He said it was around 11:30 a.m. when he and his four sons' life would drastically change.

“I was in my bedroom and I heard a loud bang and what sounded like crackling wood,” Soto said. “I came out and I could see flames as it billowed into the house. I looked to see if I could fight it on my own, but I realized I could not. I just turned around and screamed at the top of my lungs, ‘Fire! Get out!’”

At the time of the fire, all four of Soto’s sons were home. He said, being a law enforcement family, they moved quickly to get to safety.

“The boys responded really well,” Soto said. “They jumped into action and I was super proud of them. It was completely unexpected. At the end of the day, these boys and I grew up together. We always plan for the unexpected. These boys are by far the most resilient human beings I know,” he said. So, they were not prepared, but boy they sure did look like it."

Soto, who is used to helping other families in high-risk situations, said the destruction literally hit close to home.

“I’ve spent the better part of 20 years looking bad things in the eye,” Soto said. “Serving my community with all of my heart. It hits close to home. It was pretty chaotic. I show up to a lot of chaotic scenes. I have rescued children from fires. I have performed CPR on people while waiting for EMS to arrive.”

The family made it out safely with only the clothes on their backs.

“It was hard,” Soto said. “It was difficult. It was devastating. I’d say seven to ten minutes and this whole thing, everything we ever owned, touched, worked for, blood sweat and tears, was gone.”

Though the loss is great, Soto said none of it could ever amount to his family.

“At the end of the day, this is just bricks and wood,” Soto said through tears. "My home was safely across the street. “My home was ok. My home lives in Caleb, Micah, Elijah and little Jalen and that is where my heart is. This is just glass and brick. At the end of the day, all of these things can be replaced.”

He said he is beyond grateful.

“These are tears of gratitude,” Soto said emotionally. “Not of fear. Not of heartache. We have an outpouring from loved ones, family, extended family, my blue line family. I’m not overwhelmed about what the future holds.”

Soto said he is thankful that God showed him in seven minutes what was truly important.

“You go through life and you just don’t know,” Soto said. “You put value in things that could be gone in 10 minutes. Yesterday was just a day he allowed us to see what truly was important. I want people to know I am not labeled by being a police officer or detective. I am not labeled by all the things people say or do. The only thing I want to be remembered by is being these boys' dad. We have hearts too and our houses burn too.”

He encouraged his sons, who he said have been through a lot in life, by speaking of the book of Job in the Holy Bible.

“Job faced some hardships but at the end of the day, he was blessed because he was faithful,” Soto said. “We are going to remain faithful because we don’t know what our future holds, but I know when we draw near to God, he is going to give us exactly what we need. That is what we can hope for. That is where we put our hope. In him, our faith, each other, our family, our loved ones, and our community.”

As of right now, Soto said they don’t know where their next meal will come from, but they will just take things a day at a time.

“There is about four million steps and we are on step two,” he laughed. But it is ok. We got insurances. God will provide and we will be alright. We are a family and a unit, and we are going to get through this together. I love this home, but again, it is just sticks and bricks, and we can build another one."

He had this message for those watching his story.

“Ask yourself, what your priorities are in life,” Soto said. “Go look in the mirror and ask a loved one, ‘What are your priorities?’ You’d be surprised what people put value in in this world. I value these boys and they value me. I hope people understand where their priorities lie.”

About the Authors:

Japhanie Gray joined 10 News as an anchor in March 2022.

Joe Arredondo is a photojournalist at KSAT 12.