Gym owner grateful fire crews kept flames from his South Side business

Someone started fire outside vacant home next door, investigators say

A suspicious fire that started on the outside of a vacant home burned dangerously close to a South Side fitness center. The owner says he is glad is business was spared.

SAN ANTONIO – When fire broke out at a vacant South Side home early Wednesday morning, they also ignited a bit of fear inside Sam Perales, who owns a business next door.

The back side of Perales’ fitness center sits adjacent to the area where the fire broke out, on Vincent Street near Palo Alto Road.

For a while, he was worried the flames might spread to his business.

“Thank God it didn’t get—nobody got hurt and our business didn’t get hurt,” he said, while examining the building several hours later.

San Antonio firefighters say they were able to make quick work of putting out the flames.

They answered the call around 4 a.m. and found the fire at what was supposed to be a vacant house.

Daylight shows the damage done to the outside of the vacant home. The back of Sam Perales' gym shares the same yard. (KSAT 12 News)

“It appeared that somebody started a fire on the outside and it got into the walls and into the attic a little bit,” said Battalion Chief Russell Johnson with SAFD. “We don’t see anything electrical or any reason that the fire should have started.”

Johnson said the previous tenants had been evicted just a few weeks ago.

However, he said fire investigators would try to figure out who was there Wednesday morning and started the fire.

Perales, meanwhile, had arrived at the scene quite a bit later, after seeing the commotion on the surveillance cameras at his gym.

He said the video showed neighbors first waking up due to a food delivery driver in the area.

“When they came out to see who ordered the Door Dash, that’s when I think the neighbor, kind of, saw the flames,” Perales said.

At least one neighbor, he said, is seen on camera calling the fire department on his cell phone.

“They got here really quick(ly),” Perales said.

He said he shudders to think what might have happened had they not responded in time.

Perales said he is grateful those crews were right on time for him and his business.

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.

Azian Bermea is a photojournalist at KSAT.