Bexar-Bulverde Volunteer Fire Department Chief Jerry Bialick was speaking to a reporter on a live broadcast on the scene of a massive San Antonio apartment building fire when a portion of the building collapsed behind him.
Bialick said on the video statement that a portion of the five-story apartment building was collapsing. Moments later, a chunk of the building fell to the ground with a crash and burst into flames.
Bialick said residents of the apartment complex were evacuated. He expected crews would be on the scene all night. The fire hydrants were frozen, he said, causing problems for firefighters who were battling the blaze. The goal, he said, was to keep the fire from spreading to other buildings. He said the water lines were not frozen.
Here’s what you need to know:
Fire Hydrants Were Not Functioning at the Apartment Complex, Causing Difficulties for Firefighters on the Scene
The apartment building fire started at about 1 p.m., and had already spread between floors when firefighters arrived on the scene. About 75 firefighters were on the scene battling the blaze.
“Our problem is we get a little bit ahead and our water runs out,” Bialick said.
The fire hydrants were frozen, and crews were bringing water in tankers to fight the blaze.
“They’re all frozen, so we’re having to shuttle water in from quite a distance,” he said.
He was explaining the dangers of a building collapse shortly before a part of the building crashed behind him.
The fire erupted in the Cortland View apartment complex off TPC Parkway in the Stone Oak area, according to Fox San Antonio. It began on the second floor of an apartment building before spreading to additional units and buildings, KSAT reported. Crews brought in tanker trucks, and already emptied six of them. The San Antonio Fire Department and the Bexar-Bulverde Volunteer Fire Department were at the scene, and more manpower later joined them.
No Injuries Were Reported in the Apartment Building Fire, Volunteer Fire Chief Says
Bialick said no injuries were reported in the fire.
“That’s all I care about is people. Property can be replaced,” he said.
More than half a dozen fire companies responded to the scene to help extinguish the blaze. A fire marshal was called to help determine the origins of the fire. The fire started between floors, which could not be seen but was detected by cameras, Bialick said.
“We’ll be here all night,” he said. “We don’t have the fire stopped yet. We’ve got to stop this thing.”
Several witnesses and others shared video from the fire on social media. One Twitter user wrote that her brother lives in one of the apartments, located in the 4000 block of TPC Parkway.
“a building at my brothers apartment complex caught on fire and now they are asking everyone to evacuate, it has caused two other buildings to catch on fire. the cause is suspected to be a water heater exploding,” she wrote on Twitter.
A man filmed the 26-second from a nearby building, which shows debris flying through the air and smoke pouring from several locations in the complex. He was coughing on the video as he spoke.