Residents recount moments that led up to massive apartment fire on North Side

Victims left with nothing amid winter storm devastation

SAN ANTONIO – Just when San Antonio residents began to see a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel, the winter blast decided it wasn’t finished wreaking havoc.

About 50 Cortland View residents were evacuated after flames engulfed their apartment homes on Thursday.

According to residents, several issues led up to the sinister event. On Monday, below-freezing temperatures caused water pipes to freeze over. One resident said she heard a loud explosion in her closet, followed by water—lots of water.

Maria Teresa Saab has been a resident of the apartment community for about three years. She said she has been very comfortable with her living situation so far, and even management has made accommodations for her after her unit flooded.

After getting situated in her new apartment within the same community, her nerves were finally easing. That was until she saw smoke coming from building 6—the same building that burned to the ground.

Saab’s apartment also experienced ruptured pipes from the wintry weather conditions. But, she wasn’t the only one.

Aziel Reyes, who had to evacuate the burning building, said a fire crew was on-site two days before attending to some flooding upstairs. Reyes said she would have never imagined it would lead to such a destructive ending.

Reyes said her children had to run out of the building barefoot, as her kids were previously watching television. Inside her apartment, family photos, all of their clothes, legal documents and identification, and even her savings and more was completely lost to the blaze.

Many families were also displaced and left out in the cold for hours as they witnessed all their belongings turn to ashes.

No tragedy goes without an outpour of community benevolence.

San Antonians have stepped up to the plate to help fellow residents in their desperate time of need. Various organizations, including the apartment complex’s leasing office, began distributing clothing and hygiene products to victims.

Aziel Reyes who is a mother of a 3-year-old, said she’s thankful everyone made it out safe and alive and welcomes any help possible.

RELATED: Apartment building on North Side collapses following large fire

About the Authors

Jonathan Cotto is a reporter for KSAT’s Good Morning San Antonio. He’s a bilingual award-winning news reporter and he joined KSAT in 2021. Before coming to San Antonio, Cotto was reporting along the U.S.-Mexico border in South Texas. He’s a veteran of the United States Navy.

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