Community members working to help woman living in condemned home damaged by fire

A total of four tenants were affected by the North Side fire

SAN ANTONIO – The community is coming together to support a woman and her four cats and other former tenants whose homes were deemed unlivable after a fire last week on the city’s North Side.

Mary Lou Sandoval has been living in an apartment deemed not livable for a week.

Last Tuesday, a fire heavily damaged the fourplex of West Lullwood and San Pedro. The building has water but no electricity.

“Well inside, it’s okay, except now it’s cold,” said Mary Lou Sandoval. “Only plain water, the cold one. You can’t warm it up because we don’t have no heat.”

The three other tenants of the fourplex are currently staying with friends or family. Although they are also displaced, they have a sense of responsibility for the elderly Sandoval.

“We’re always trying to make sure that she’s got what she needs and that she’s taken care of so it’s unfortunate that she’s here, but we just don’t have the means, and we don’t really know what to do,” said Kimberly Bemrich, one of Sandoval hallway neighbors.

Bemrich explained Sandoval doesn’t have relatives around but that the neighborhood is like her family.

In the short time KSAT spent with Sandoval, a handful of people came to check on her. One person helped her up her front steps and made a list of things to buy her, another stopped to ask if she needed toilet paper or paper towels, and one person gave her Tupperware with food.

Bemrich said she doesn’t know how long those in the area can sustain that assistance.

“I want you to be safe, Mary Lou, and sound and in warmth and to have warm water and a fridge and a microwave,” said Bemrich as she talked to Sandoval.

Bemrich hopes to find a place for Sandoval and her four cats, or children, as Sandoval refers to them.

“With my coffee and my crackers and my children, I’ll be okay. I just want to say thank you very much and thank you to Jesus for keeping us alive,” said Sandoval.

Bemrich and the other former tenants of the fourplex have started a GoFundMe. She tells us the funds would be for helping all four of the people displaced but that getting Sandoval a place to stay is the priority.

KSAT has reached out to the Red Cross to see what help or guidance they can provide; we are waiting to hear back. We also contacted Christian Assistance Ministries, who are now in touch with Bemrich and Sandoval.

About the Author

John Paul Barajas is a reporter at KSAT 12. Previously, he worked at KRGV 5 in the Rio Grande Valley. He has a degree from the University of Houston. In his free time, he likes to get a workout in, spend time on the water and check out good eats and drinks.

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