Firefighters struggle against flames, smoke, natural gas in vacant apartment building

Fire destroyed building not far from Kelly Field

Flames, smoke and natural gas worked together to create a huge challenge for San Antonio firefighters early Friday morning.
Flames, smoke and natural gas worked together to create a huge challenge for San Antonio firefighters early Friday morning.

SAN ANTONIO – Flames, smoke and natural gas worked together to create a huge challenge for San Antonio firefighters early Friday morning.

They were called to the 400 block of Gillmore around 5:30 a.m. and found heavy fire coming from a vacant building at the Preserve at the Port apartments.

“It did collapse. No injuries to our firefighters. Nobody has been reported missing or anything,” said Joseph Arrington, a spokesman for the San Antonio Fire Department.

Firefighters spent more than an hour pouring water on the flames both from the ground and from an aerial ladder truck.

San Antonio firefighters are responding to a large fire at an apartment building on the Southwest Side on Friday morning.
San Antonio firefighters are responding to a large fire at an apartment building on the Southwest Side on Friday morning.

Even after they knocked down the main portion of the fire, stubborn flames refused to die.

Arrington said there was natural gas coming from an underground pipe that was continuing to fuel the fire.

Fire crews had to wait for CPS Energy workers to dig up the pipeline and stop the leak.

They managed to contain the fire to just that building, and it did not threaten any other structures.

Still, that didn’t stop some neighbors from worrying.

“Ms. Gen” Garcia, who lives in the building next door, says she was prepared to leave her home, if necessary.

“When I came out, I could feel the heat from my front door,” she said, " I just grabbed my pictures and my social security and birth certificates, and I was, like, ‘If we’ve got to go, we’ve got to go.”

Fortunately, there was no damage to her home.

Arrington said the building where the fire started is a hangout for homeless people.

However, he said it is unclear whether they may have had any involvement in starting the fire.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

A fire broke out just before 5:30 a.m. Friday at The Preserve at the Port in the 400 block of Gillmore Ave. (KSAT)
A fire broke out just before 5:30 a.m. Friday at The Preserve at the Port in the 400 block of Gillmore Ave. (KSAT)

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.

Azian Bermea is a photojournalist at KSAT.