A San Antonio apartment complex was destroyed by a fire that started due to a suspected water tanker explosion and spread as firefighters were unable to access hydrants that were frozen because of below-freezing temperatures.
The fire occurred at the Cortland View apartment complex in the Stone Oak section of north-central San Antonio on Thursday.
Some 130 residents were safely evacuated after the blaze reportedly ripped through the second floor of the apartment, according to KSAT-TV.
Residents reported that they received an alert to turn off their water heater at around 1pm on Thursday.
Moments later, a fire broke out on the second floor of the complex, fire officials said.
A fire tore through Cortland View apartment complex in the Stone Oak section of north-central San Antonio on Thursday
By Thursday evening, most of the apartment complex had been destroyed by the fire
Some 130 residents were safely evacuated after the blaze reportedly ripped through the second floor of the apartment
Firefighters said they planned to battle the blaze well into the early morning hours of Friday
The fire then spread to other units in the building, destroying residences as well as vehicles that were parked in the complex’s nearby lot.
Bexar County firefighters were hampered in their efforts to extinguish the blaze because the fire hydrants that are the source for water were frozen.
Witnesses at the scene reported that crews were bringing bottled water to firefighters who were battling the blaze.
Fire trucks were also seen carrying water to the area in an effort to put out the fire.
‘It already spread so major concern out here was frozen hydrants,’ Bexar-Bulverde VFD Chief Jerry Bialick told Fox 29 TV.
‘So, we have no water.’
Firefighters were unable to quickly extinguish the blaze because the nearby hydrants were frozen solid
Witnesses captured footage showing several cars parked in the building’s lot catching fire
He added: ‘We’ve got tenders from all over the area here.
‘We actually got some, we got more coming in to shovel water into us.’
But the frozen hydrants appear to have doomed much of the structure. Images from the scene show that a majority of the building collapsed as a result of the blaze.
The rate at which water is being supplied by the tankers and tenders to fight the fire isn’t nearly fast enough to slow down the inferno.
‘Our problem is when we get a little bit ahead and, and then the water runs out because you know these tenders are only running about 3,000 gallons, 2,000 gallons apiece,’ Bialick said.
‘So, it runs out in just a couple of minutes, we make some good headway and then they run out of water and they have to go get more.’
Bialick urged residents of the buildings to find alternative housing options for the night.
Those whose cars were parked near the complex were also likely to have lost their vehicles as well.
‘We’re not gonna be able to save these vehicles,’ Bialick said.
‘You know the property inside can be replaced, you know, contact your insurance company, you know.’
Bialick said that four or five more tanker trucks are expected to ferry water to the firefighters throughout the course of the night.
‘We’ll be here all night,’ Bialick said.
‘So, you know it’s gonna continue, we don’t have the fire stopped yet so we gotta, we gotta, we gotta stop this thing.’
The storm caused icicles to form on the State Highway 195 sign in Killeen Thursday while thousands are still without power
Snow continues to fall in San Antonio Thursday as the extreme weather continues to wreak havoc across the state
A homeless woman tries to stay warm on the streets of downtown San Antonio amid the freezing winter storms
Vehicles are at a standstill southbound on Interstate Highway 35 on Thursday in Killeen, Texas amid the treacherous conditions
Thursday marked the fifth day in a row that thousands of homes have been left without power in the midst of record-smashing, freezing temperatures that rolled in with Winter Storm Uri at the weekend.
Desperate Texans have been thrown into survival mode as the state is now running out of food and water with seven million people under boil water orders – despite many still having no power – and hungry residents forced to line up for four hours to get their hands on a hot meal.
Power was restored to more homes and businesses Thursday in states hit by a deadly blast of winter that overwhelmed the electrical grid and left millions shivering in the cold this week.
But the crisis was far from over in parts of the South, where many people still lacked safe drinking water.
In Texas on Thursday, about 325,000 homes and businesses remained without power, down from about 3 million a day earlier, though utility officials said limited rolling blackouts were still possible.
The storms also left more than 320,000 homes and businesses without power in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. About 70,000 power outages persisted after an ice storm in eastern Kentucky, while nearly 67,000 were without electricity in West Virginia.
The lack of power and extreme weather has kick-started a growing crisis in the food supply chain with power outages at grocery stores spoiling fresh produce, shelves depleted as panicked shoppers stockpile goods and no sign of deliveries arriving along the icy roads to replenish stocks.
A water bucket is filled as others wait in near freezing temperatures to use a hose from public park spigot in Houston where residents are under a boil water order
People form a line towards the cashier at a supermarket in Austin, Texas, as shelves lie empty and there are no signs of deliveries to restock them
People pictured in a Fiesta supermarket in Houston on Tuesday stocking up amid the crisis that has devastated the state
In Houston, hungry residents running out of supplies and having to toss spoiled food after days of no power in their homes lined up for four hours at a local Burger King to get a hot meal for the first time that day – before that too ran out of food.
Drinking water supply is even more concerning with seven million Texans across Arlington, Austin, Houston and San Antonio issued with boil water orders, around 263,000 people have been impacted by non-functioning water providers, and thousands dealing with burst water pipes.
Among those urged to boil water are thousands without the power to do so in Harris County, leaving them with a desperate choice between going without water or facing possible illness.
Meanwhile, in scenes reminiscent of a third world country, Houston residents resorted to filling up buckets of water from a spigot in a local neighborhood.
One Houston resident, whose power has just gone back on Thursday after three days but still has no water, told DailyMail.com: ‘It is crazy that we just watched NASA land on Mars but here in Houston most of us still don’t have drinking water.’
In Galveston, Mayor Craig Brown said burst pipes had depleted the areas water supply leaving hospitals with a ‘dangerously low’ supply Wednesday as he described the devastation the storm is wreaking as ‘worse than a hurricane.’
Multiple health agencies across the state issued warnings urging Texans to boil tap water to ensure it is safe to drinking.
About 590 public water systems across 141 counties had warned of disruption to the supply of water impacting around 12 million residents already reeling from the storm.
In Harris County, which covers Houston, its 4.7 million residents were under a boil water order.
However Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo told MSNBC that most residents under the notice ‘don’t have power to boil the water.’
A broken water line caused flooding in the St. Paul The Apostle Church in Richardson while drinking water is in short supply
People living on the streets huddle in blankets as the icy temperatures will continue into the weekend
Workers pick at a frozen fountain in Richardson as subzero temperatures continue to grip Texas
A tractor trailer is stuck in the slick ice and snow on State Highway 195 as travelers are warned about dangerous conditions on roads
Instead, many lined up in the icy weather with huge containers and buckets to fill up water from a spigot in local neighborhoods while others are using pool water to flush toilets in their homes.
One local resident told DailyMail.com Thursday afternoon he has now gone three days without a supply of drinking water to his Houston apartment.
Alex Macarthur said both the power and water first went off early Monday morning.
The power finally came back on Thursday morning and he received a message from the building saying the water was back up and running but was told not to turn on the taps, he said.
The water pipes then burst in the building and the water was turned off again.
Macarthur said there was no sign of when the water will be back and that he has been getting by on bottled water and using water from the swimming pool to flush the toilet.
‘Luckily we had bought two large bottles of water in anticipation of the Hurricane a few months back which we never ended up using,’ he said.
‘We received an alert on our phones that a boil notice was in place but a friend gave us 3 small bottles last night that has lasted us – so managed to avoid having to boil snow.’
However, shelves at the nearby supermarket were near-empty Thursday with only four small bottles of water left in the store.
‘Our building also advised if we needed to flush the toilet we should take water from the swimming pool. Just what you want before sitting on the toilet – a nice trip outside in the cold!’ he said.
He added that he feels lucky to be in a rental apartment as he knows several homeowners who are now faced with collapsed ceilings and flooding from burst pipes in their homes.
Macarthur said it was ‘absolutely mental’ that such a crisis would happen in Texas which is supposed to be the ‘energy hub of the world’.