Gusty winds create extra challenge as firefighters battle destructive house fire

Fire damaged 2 homes, 3 cars

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio firefighters had no help from nature as they struggled to contain a fire that broke out in a West Side home Wednesday morning.

Even before they arrived at the scene in the 100 block of Westknoll, fire crews knew they had a big problem on their hands.

RELATED: Fire damages homes, several cars in West Side neighborhood

They said they could see a plume of thick black smoke from miles away, and they could feel the strong winds whipping it.

By the time they had extinguished the flames, they say the fire had destroyed the home where it started along with three cars in the driveway.

It also caused major damage to the home next door.

“It burned off, you could see one wall that it burned off on the exposure side,” said Battalion Chief Russell Johnson, describing the damage to that second home.

One home and three cars were destroyed by the fire. It also caused major damage to the home next door. (KSAT 12 News)

Johnson said fire crews had to tap into a hydrant several blocks away, on W. Military Drive, just to get enough water to put out the fire.

Richard Herrera had brought them to the area with a 911 call he placed around 7:30 a.m.

“It was engulfed. I’m talking about 20 feet, 30 feet, in the air,” he said.

Herrera said he was preparing to go out to breakfast when he noticed the fire.

He had looked out his window after hearing explosions.

“I thought a vehicle had entered my home and hit the wall,” Herrera said.

Firefighters say the sound most likely was coming from tires that were popping as the cars burned.

There were no serious injuries from the fire.

However, firefighters say they did examine a woman at the scene who was having trouble breathing.

They say they also found a pet dog dead inside the home where the fire started.

The trouble that the wind presented for firefighters prompted them to issue a warning about the use of outdoor fires on a day like this.

“We don’t need another East Texas, panhandle Texas, going on here,” Johnson said. “So anybody on the outside skirts, just do not burn.”

The cause of the house fire is still under investigation.

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.

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