Explosion that killed 4 on SE Side happened in underground home, SAFD says

Drug lab or explosive devices ruled out as cause of blast; Property in 9700 block of South Presa Street was owned by a man, wife and brother

SAN ANTONIO – Crews have wrapped up work at the excavation site where an explosion that killed four people on the city’s Southeast Side happened at a home that was built underground, officials with the San Antonio Fire Department said.

SAFD updates public about investigation

SAFD command staff held its first media briefing Tuesday about the explosion that caused “surprising damage” late Friday night on the property of K-Bar, a construction company located in the 9700 block of South Presa Street.

“You don’t see things like this type of explosion,” SAFD Chief Charles Hood said at the briefing. “All the trees around the house were charred.”

Hood said that the possibility of a drug lab or explosive devices have been ruled out as potential causes of the blast.

He said the house, which was set about 12 feet below the ground, had a tunnel with concrete walls reinforced with rebar and was built on a 75-acre site that is owned by a man, wife and brother. Officials did not say whether the owners were any of the victims.

SAFD Division Chief Doug Berry from the Arson Bureau said that some people on the property reported smelling gas prior to the explosion. Berry said a propane tank connected to the home was being investigated as a possible cause. He would not comment on whether he thought the explosion was a criminal act.

SAFD news conference on fatal SE Side explosion

The victims

Hood said they don’t expect to find any more victims.

As of Tuesday morning, the medical examiner’s office has released the identities of two of the four victims:

  • Roger Huron Jr., 36
  • Ashley Autobee, 28
  • Male, 61 - Identification not released pending notification of next-of-kin
  • Male, 57 - tentative Identification only
Google maps shows the property where an explosion at an underground home killed 4 people on Dec. 9, 2022. (Google Maps)

The ATF and FBI are assisted the San Antonio Fire Department with the investigation — which SAFD officials said was slow and methodical with evidence and materials scattered across the dense property. An SAFD spokesperson confirmed the work at the excavation site wrapped up Tuesday evening.

Complications caused by weather

The work was complicated by rain on Saturday and Sunday on the flood-prone property with large equipment getting stuck in the mud.

The blast site became flooded with rainwater that required pumping out before investigators could continue.

A KSAT crew saw Public Works units still pumping water on Monday.

Hood said that six dogs were found on the property and were returned to their owner.

Also on KSAT:

About the Authors

Julie Moreno has worked in local television news for more than 25 years. She came to KSAT as a news producer in 2000. After producing thousands of newscasts, she transitioned to the digital team in 2015. She writes on a wide variety of topics from breaking news to trending stories and manages KSAT’s daily digital content strategy.

Courtney Friedman anchors KSAT’s weekend evening shows and reports during the week. Her ongoing Loving in Fear series confronts Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She joined KSAT in 2014 and is proud to call the SA and South Texas community home. She came to San Antonio from KYTX CBS 19 in Tyler, where she also anchored & reported.

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