Family says pet cat, Smokey, sparked house fire before four siblings escaped

The siblings managed to rescue four family pets from flames.

SAN ANTONIO — First responders already in the area of Potranco Road and Loop 1604 found themselves quickly responding to another emergency after noticing smoke coming from a nearby neighborhood. 

When they tracked down the source, they found four children – the youngest just 3 months old – escaping flames that had overtaken their home, rescuing four pets in the process. 

No one was seriously hurt, according to San Antonio Fire Department officials at the scene in the 11400 block of Woollcott. Officials say their parents were at work when the fire sparked around 4 p.m.

“The thing that did go well is they exited the structure immediately,” said SAFD Battalion Chief Oscar Gonzalez. 

Their quick actions also saved the family’s two dogs, cat and hamster. 

‘Too much smoke, I can’t see’

The family believes it’s the cat that started the fire when she knocked over a lit candle. 

That cat’s name: Smokey. 

“(My older sister) lit it and she put it on the shelf and she walked away from like five seconds,” said 9-year-old Lylah Castillo, who escaped the home with her siblings. “It rolled on the books and it caught flames and it set our bed on fire. That’s how it exploded in flames.”

The oldest child, Arianna, sprung into action. 

“They ran into their room to get the hamster,” Arianna said. “We got all the dogs and animals, then went outside. Then I went back inside to look for a fire extinguisher.”

The 15-year-old then called her mother, Kathrine. Both parents were about 45 minutes away at work. 

“I asked, ‘Can you put it out with water? Did you find the fire extinguisher?'” Kathrine Castillo said. “She said, ‘No, the flames are too big. There’s too much smoke, I can’t see.’ I told her to get everybody and go to the front, calling 911.”

The flames blocked the front door, so Arianna led everyone to the backyard. A neighbor, Sonia Sirio, happened to be driving by. 

“They were asking for help,” Sirio said. “They couldn’t get out.” 

She rushed to help get them out through the back gate. Meanwhile, fire crews had arrived and were dousing large flames bursting through a window at the front of the home, smoke coming from all sides. 

“My favorite Squishmallow… my mom gave me a big rainbow octopus and it burned,” Lylah said, holding back tears. 

“Everything in our home is destroyed,” Kathrine added. “We unfortunately lost everything.”

The Castillos are staying with relatives for now, but neighbors are already chipping in with supplies. A GoFundMe page has been created to help the family get back on their feet. 

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