People wake up to neighbors knocking, flames burning through 4 homes

At total of 9 people escaped fire safely

SAN ANTONIO – Nine people have escaped a fire that swept through four homes early Thursday morning in a neighborhood on San Antonio’s East Side.

Some of them say they owe their safety to neighbors, who noticed the fire and went around banging on doors.

RELATED: Fire at vacant home undergoing renovations spreads to 3 houses nearby; 5 people displaced, SAFD says

The fire broke out after 5 a.m. Thursday inside one home in the 1200 block of Florida Street.

San Antonio fire crews say they were unable to stop it from spreading because they believe it had burning for some time before anyone noticed it.

“This was a very large fire. Crews worked very aggressively to keep it to those four structures,” said Joseph Arrington, a public information officer for SAFD.

Smoke enshrouds a firefighter as he works to put water on an especially destructive fire. Four homes burned. (KSAT 12 News)

Three of those homes had people living in them at the time.

A total of nine people, including a baby, were already outside when firefighters arrived.

“The main structure fire was unoccupied. It was being renovated. It was gonna be a total loss,” Arrington said.

He said it appears the fire started on the back side of the vacant house, then quickly spread.

The homes that were damaged included one that had been converted into apartments, and one that was serving as an Airbnb.

Four men who were staying in that short-term rental home said they were unaware of the fire until a neighbor knocked on the door.

A third home, the one behind the house where the fire started, was destroyed.

A woman who lived there with her daughter and granddaughter told KSAT 12 News that they were still missing a pet cat.

They, along with the occupants of the other homes, were not sure right away where they would go. They all were in need of a new place to stay.

Fire investigators, meanwhile, were not sure right away how the fire started.

“It’s going to be difficult to determine that cause because of the total loss nature of the primary structure,” Arrington said. “They’re going to take a look at it and obviously talk to neighbors and see what was going on there.”

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.

Santiago Esparza is a photojournalist at KSAT 12.