NE Side home deliberately set fire 4 times in 2 weeks, firefighters say

Vacant Constitution Avenue home was 1 of 2 suspicious fires overnight

By Katrina Webber - Crime Fighters Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - Arson investigators are looking for the causes of two suspicious vacant home fires early Wednesday on the city's Northeast Side.

"Obviously, when you have an abandoned building, we don't have electricity to it. It causes some red flags to go up," San Antonio fire battalion Chief Steve Reuthinger said.

Firefighters received the first call around 2 a.m. and found themselves at a familiar location.

Records show there have been three fires within the past two weeks at the vacant home on Constitution Avenue near Valley Forge.

Like the other fires, the latest incident appeared to be suspicious, prompting arson investigators to the scene.

"Neighbors are saying that they're seeing people running away. We don't know what the house is being used for," Reuthinger said.

After a fire last weekend, Reuthinger said he notified the city's Code Compliance Department about the situation. 

An officer showed up at the scene several hours after the fire Wednesday morning to survey the site.

"I wish they would either repair it, tear it down or do something," said Paula Ellis, who lives across the street.

Ellis said her son woke her up to tell about the latest fire.

"There was nothing but smoke everywhere, and I could tell that something was on fire," she said.  "They just battled that blaze for quite some time."

About two hours later, some of the same firefighters were called to another vacant home on the Interstate 10 access road near Liberty Road.

Firefighters said flames were shooting through the roof of the structure when they arrived.

It took several hours to put out the fire, which they also called suspicious.

During the height of the firefight, a number of fire trucks and patrol cars were parked on the highway access road, blocking traffic from getting through.

Arson investigators were also called to the second fire scene to investigate.

Reuthinger said the second home also had no working utilities. 

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