Poor radio communications hamper crews battling fire in Fair Oaks Ranch, chief says

Firefighters kept flames from home but garage was destroyed

Fire crews battling a fire in the garage of a home in Fair Oaks Ranch Thursday morning quickly found out the flames and smoke weren’t their only problems.

SAN ANTONIO – Fire crews battling a fire in the garage of a home in Fair Oaks Ranch Thursday morning quickly found out the flames and smoke weren’t their only problems.

They say just being able to talk to each other about the fire was a challenge that they struggled to overcome.

“The only problem we had was communications. We could not get out here because of some dead spots, which has been a problem out here for years,” said Chief Robert H. Hardensteine with Leon Springs Fire, ESD #4.

Hardensteine said poor radio signals put the first crews that arrived before 9 a.m. at Northview Pass and Oakview Bend in harm’s way.

“They cannot hear you. Most of them come back out. We have to wait for face-to-face to find out what’s going on,” he said.

The troubles, Hardensteine said, could lead to an unnecessary loss of property or even a loss of life.

“That’s scary, and it makes me concerned, and we need to do something about it because we need to be able to get to our first responders, no matter what first responders that may be,” said a neighbor who did not want to be identified.

In this case, there were no injuries and firefighters kept the fire from spreading into the attached home.

However, there was some smoke that spread inside and a small portion of the roof over the home appeared to have damage.

Hardensteine said it appeared the fire started in a car that was parked inside the garage, although the cause is still under investigation.

KSAT reached out to Bexar County about the radio signal in the Fair Oaks area. Officials sent the following statement:

“The City of San Antonio as the operator of the current radio system is looking into the reported issue in the Fair Oaks area. A new radio system, the Alamo Area Regional Radio System, is being developed for Bexar County, the City of San Antonio and CPS Energy. More detailed information will be provided once it becomes available.”

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About the Authors:

Katrina Webber was born and raised in Queens, NY, but after living in Gulf Coast states for the past decade, she feels right at home in Texas.

Tim has been a photojournalist and video editor at KSAT since 1998. He came to San Antonio from Lubbock, where he worked in TV and earned his bachelor's degree in Electronic Media and Communication from Texas Tech University. Tim has won a handful of awards and has earned a master's in Strategic Communication and Innovation from Tech as well.