Fire in vacant West Side home part of a dangerous trend, firefighters say

SAN ANTONIO – A fire that caused heavy damage to a vacant West Side home early Tuesday morning is part of a disturbing and dangerous trend, according to San Antonio firefighters.

The trend involves houses and buildings that somehow have gone up in flames even though they had no working utilities. In some cases, they’ve threatened or damaged other people’s properties and potentially put fire crews in danger.

RELATED: Vacant house on West Side goes up in flames in early-morning fire

In the latest case, San Antonio police officers who happened to be in the area first noticed the fire in a home located in the 700 block of S. San Augustine. They called for fire crews shortly after 4 a.m.

“Our first engine crews, they reported a fully involved structure. We could actually see it from a ways off,” said Battalion Chief David Prado with SAFD.

Firefighters quickly knocked down the fire, but not before it caused major damage to the house. Prado says it is possible it had been smoldering for some time before anyone noticed it.

“No utilities to the structure, so it was vacant,” he said. “There were squatters going in and out. There’s evidence of activity.”

Arson investigators spent some time going through the home, looking for evidence of what caused the fire.

Prado says it appears someone may have had a hand in starting it, either by accident or intentionally.

“We’ve been seeing a lot of vacant structures that are actually catching fire,” he said.

Just last Thursday, some of the same fire crews were called to put out a fire in a vacant house in the 800 block of Poplar Street.

RELATED: Fire investigators looking into reports of ‘squatters’ seen inside home that burned

At that scene, Prado told KSAT 12 News he also suspected someone who didn’t belong had gotten inside and started the fire. It caused heavy damage to the home, which had stood in that location for nearly 100 years.

During the past month, there also have been several other fires throughout the city that have started mysteriously in similar structures.

One of them in a vacant apartment building, located in the 6800 block of Pecan Valley, sent up smoke and flames across the city’s Southeast Side.

In most cases, the damage has been limited to property.

However, firefighters fear they could put human lives in jeopardy.

They urge everyone to report any suspicious activity they may notice in and around any vacant structures.

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