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Sun Dec 28, 2014, 07:41 PM

North Side blaze kills 5, injures 10 (in San Antonio apartment building for seniors)

Source: San Antonio Express-News

Five people died and 10 were injured after a 3-alarm-fire broke out Sunday at a senior living high-rise in the North Side suburb of Castle Hills, authorities said.

The Castle Hills Fire Department first responded to the 6 a.m. blaze at Wedgwood Senior Living Apartments, an 11-story structure at 6701 Blanco Road that houses about 700 residents.

Approximately 47 units from the San Antonio Fire Department followed, along with other emergency responders from around the San Antonio area, including Balcones Heights, Leon Valley and Schertz.

At least one of the injured is in critical condition at an area hospital, according to San Antonio Fire Department officials. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, they said.

Read more: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local/article/Fire-breaks-out-at-senior-living-community-5981971.php

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Reply North Side blaze kills 5, injures 10 (in San Antonio apartment building for seniors) (Original post)
TexasTowelie Dec 2014 OP
Divernan Dec 2014 #1

Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Sun Dec 28, 2014, 08:20 PM

1. Non-ambulatory seniors in an 11 story high rise? Recipe for disaster.

Officials are still trying to determine who was at the apartments, with early reports that about 216 residents were unaccounted for. Some of the 700 residents may have gone with relatives for the holidays, said Ken Jarvis, public information officer for the Bexar-Bulverde Volunteer Fire Department.

The fire forced between 75 and 120 elderly residents to be carried out many of them nonambulatory by the approximately 150 firefighters on scene. Fire officials confirmed they used fire platform ladders to pluck about two residents from balconies.

Some residents told the Express-News that they thought the building did have sprinkler systems, and that they did see them go off. Others said that they didn't have sprinkler systems. One woman on the third floor, where the fire is believed to have started, said there were no sprinker systems on her floor.

"I tried to open the door but it was jammed," said an 87-year-old resident who did not want her name to be used. "I went to a window and opened it a little and began yelling for help. "I was scared. The heat was so intense that the blinds began melting in the room. I yelled and yelled, the door was stuck and finally somebody broke it in." The woman was either helped or carried down three flights of stairs.

Margarita Cisneros, 80, said there was a lot of smoke, "and it was awful." "It was overwhelming," said Vivian Casanova, another resident. "We tried to come out but the exit doors were jammed. Firefighters reached our floor and helped us out and we were able to walk down as the firefighters went back (in) for more."

Casanova said firefighters then handed her over to rescuers and both she and Cisneros were led very slowly down nine flights of stairs. "It was so terrifying," Casanova said.

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