Investigators have no easy answers yet on cause of deadly downtown high-rise fire

Man in his 60s died after suffering smoke inhalation

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio fire investigators have not yet determined what caused a fire in a downtown high-rise apartment building that left a man dead.

The fire department was notified about the fire at the Villa Hermosa apartments after 1:30 a.m. Tuesday.

RELATED: 1 person killed, dozens evacuated after fire at high-rise apartment building downtown

Crews arrived in the 300 block of N. Flores and found smoke and flames coming from a third floor apartment, according to a battalion chief on scene.

They were able to knock down the fire quickly.

However, they discovered there was a man inside the building who was suffering from smoke inhalation.

The man, who the fire department says was in his 60s, was taken to a hospital where he died.

No one else was hurt.

“We just didn’t know what to think ‘cause we were still half asleep,” said David Estrada, who woke up to the sound of fire alarms.

Estrada was on the fifth floor at the time, one of about 30 people in the building who ran outside for safety at the height of the fire.

“We got out. We went downstairs and we saw that most of the people were already out,” he said. “We really didn’t smell smoke at first, but then when we came down and we saw the smoke.”

Some people, like Estrada, were able to return to their apartments later, while others had to find another place to stay. Firefighters say the apartments adjacent to, and below, the unit where the fire started sustained damage from smoke or water.

They said management with the apartment building was helping to place those residents in other homes.

Operation Home San Antonio released the following statement on Tuesday:

“Three residents have been temporarily moved to a hotel, with only one resident possibly needing relocation to a new unit. Property management is assisting with relocation and providing food and water. Red Cross will provide counseling services to the residents.”

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.