Residents say history of false alarms made them ignore real fire at apartment complex

No one injured; fire damaged business

SAN ANTONIO – When fire alarms sounded throughout a far Northwest Side apartment complex early Wednesday, very few people appeared to be alarmed at all.

Some watched from their balconies at the Tribute at the Rim apartments as San Antonio firefighters rushed into a ground floor business to put out the flames.

RELATED: Fire damages nail salon at Rim apartments; residents think it was false alarm

Firefighters say the fire, which broke out around 6 a.m. inside Fantasia Nail Bar, started inside a tub of body wax, then spread to a pile of boxes.

The business is part of a multi-use complex located in the 8000 block of Worthy Parkway. It is attached to a building that includes apartments.

Worthy Parkway fire image. (KSAT)

Although fire crews stopped the flames from spreading, the fire did set off the alarm system throughout the apartment complex.

“It had been going off like this for a while,” said Spencer Davis, talking over the loud wailing.

Davis, who lives in the attached apartment building, woke up to the noise and decided to leave his apartment to walk his dog.

Many of his neighbors stayed put, convinced they were not facing any real danger.

“(The apartment management) had been doing tests from it. They’d been telling us that throughout the day we might hear the fire alarms going off,” he said.

He believes some people assumed the ringing alarm was just a test, while others simply may have grown immune to the sound.

“I think it has just happened so many times that people just assume that it’s just another test or malfunction that nobody takes it seriously,” Davis said.

The apartment complex, he said, routinely has false alarms.

While no one was hurt during this real emergency, Davis worries they may not be as lucky next time if the sound that was meant to alert people to an emergency rings out all the time.

KSAT 12 News left a phone message and sent an email to the company that manages the apartment complex, Greystar.

A spokesperson responded in writing, saying that the owner would have to address questions about the alleged faulty alarm system. A statement was later given to KSAT.

“We are grateful no one was injured during the fire in the retail space. While it is true the fire occurred during the time the system was being tested for annual inspections, it did work as designed. The fire department responded and quickly extinguished the fire. The system is operational, and testing will be completed today.”

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.

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