A broken air conditioner drove Rigoberto Ruiz, his wife and three children from their Southwest home late Monday night.
“The house was hot, really, really hot,” he said.
Before the night was over, it would get even hotter.
A neighbor noticed flames coming from the side of the home, located in the 8600 block of White Star, and called 911.
When San Antonio firefighters arrived after 10 p.m., the fire already had broken through the roof and spread to a tall tree.
They quickly began tackling the flames, trying to keep them from spreading to nearby homes.
Neighbors told KSAT 12 News that, for a while, they were worried that protecting their homes was a battle firefighters might not win.
In the end, though, the fire did get the best of Ruiz’s home.
He and his wife returned Tuesday morning to get their first look at the devastation.
The fire not only gutted the home but burned clear through the back side.
Ruiz said he’d heard about the fire and rushed home.
However, he was not able to get through because his street was blocked off.
“So I can't drive this way because the firemen and police and everybody. So I can't see it,” he said.
He had gone through the burned out shell of his home trying to salvage anything he could.
He emerged with a few of his 6-year-old son’s toys.
The couple also found their dog at the site and attempted, unsuccessfully, to coax the frightened pup into their car.
“For sure we need everything, clothes for everybody and another house,” Ruiz said.
As of Tuesday morning, the San Antonio Fire Department was not able to say how the fire started.
A spokesman said arson investigators who were called out to the scene had not completed their investigation.
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