Woman describes running from ‘humongous’ flames at NW Side apartment complex

Janie Ruiz was worried fire might spread

SAN ANTONIO – People who live in a Northwest Side apartment complex found themselves running for their lives after fire erupted in one building early Tuesday morning.

The fire broke out in building number 17 of the complex, located in the 1300 block of Gardina.

Eventually it consumed all eight apartments in the building and threatened to damage others nearby.

RELATED: Apartment building on Northwest Side destroyed amid large fire

“All of a sudden I heard, ‘boom, boom, boom’ at the neighbor’s house,” said Janie Ruiz. “(I heard people saying) ‘Fire! The building’s on fire!”

Ruiz, who actually lives two buildings away from the one that was burning, was concerned her home also would go up in flames.

All eight units in the building were destroyed. (KSAT 12 News)

She threw on some clothing, then jumped in her car while calling to warn neighbors along the way.

“The flames were, like, humongous. I mean, the building was just gushing on fire,” she said. “That was super scary. Oh my God. I was just shaking, praying to the Lord.”

Firefighters, meanwhile, were working to stop her fears from coming to fruition.

They fought to keep the fire from spreading to the buildings on either side of it.

Fire Chief Charles Hood arrived on scene and spoke to members of the media, saying that it appeared everyone living in the building made it out safely.

He said one man did have to be checked out by paramedics for minor smoke inhalation.

“We also have another pregnant female that is due to deliver tomorrow. And so she’s just excited by this,” Hood said.

That woman was taken to a hospital by ambulance as a precaution.

Two other people told KSAT12 they had to jump from their second floor balcony to escape the fire.

They did not appear to suffer any serious injuries.

Hood said it was too early to determine the cause of the fire.

Even after the flames were put out, he said there remained a danger from what was left of the building, itself.

An exterior wall, Hood said, was unstable as a result of the fire.

“That wall is leaning,” he said. “This is probably one of the most dangerous times for us as firefighters because of the instability of the building.”

Hood said, for now, firefighters would keep everyone away from the structure.

People who lived in the building, though, would not have been able to go home anyway.

All of the apartments have been destroyed.

About the Authors

Katrina Webber joined KSAT 12 in December 2009. She reports for Good Morning San Antonio. Katrina 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. It's not unusual to find her singing karaoke or leading a song with her church choir when she's not on-air.

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.

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