Mother awakes to see 'fire was in my face'

East Side family of 3 loses all their belongings

By Jessie Degollado - Reporter, Bill Caldera - Photojournalist

SAN ANTONIO - After working her night shift at a nursing home, an East Side mother of two said she’d dozed off on the living room sofa and suddenly awoke to see “the fire was in my face.”

Rovena O’Neil said the sofa where she’d been sleeping was next to the stairwell where it’s believed a fire may have started. The cause is still under investigation, according to a spokesman for the San Antonio Fire Department.

"I ran out and the fire just exploded," O'Neil said.

The interior of the two-story detached apartment was destroyed along with all of the family’s belongings.

O’Neil said her two sons, ages 7 and 9, were at school at the time, but no doubt will be shocked to see all was lost, even their new puppy that was asleep on her chest.

“I lost everything — my money, my debit card, food. Everything is gone,” she said.

O’Neil said she doesn’t even have keys to her vehicle to get to work. Without a cell phone, she had to run across the yard to her landlord’s house to call 911.

“This is a nightmare. 'Wake up, Rovena,'” she told herself.

For now, she’s expecting help from the American Red Cross, but O’Neil said she doesn’t know what she’ll do later.

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