SAFD: 100 firefighters battle massive northeast-side blaze

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by KENS 5 Staff

kens5.com

Posted on August 17, 2012 at 5:41 AM

Updated Friday, Aug 24 at 6:11 PM

Huge fire on northeast side

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San Antonio fire crews spent Friday morning battling a huge blaze on the city's northeast side. It took 100 firefighters to gain control of those flames. Now they are monitoring the situation - checking for hot spots so they don't reignite.

SAFD was called to the scene of the massive fire at OpTech Transportation Services warehouse at around 4:30 Friday morning.

Plumes of smoke rose into the skies above the 9500 block of Ball Street where the three-alarm fire took hold and completely destroyed the building.

Authorities say 40 units fought the flames at the location off I-35 and Loop 410. In addition to the building, big rigs and a brush fire were involved.

A security guard at the warehouse said he had been watching a movie when he saw something suspicious and went to investigate. He said he believes the flames may have ignited in an area where plastic pallets are stored. Those pallets served as fuel for the fire, said officials.

"it just kept getting closer and closer," said a witness. "The flames were so high, they kept having explosions after explosions. So we were pretty scared."

Normally firefighters like to surround and drown flames. But when they arrived at this fire they couldn't get to the south end of the site due to the railroad tracks. Union Pacific shut down rail traffic for about two hours. The first train passed through just before 8 a.m.

Hundreds of people were unable to get to the area for work. Many parked at Academy Sports off Loop 410 to wait it out. But this was an all-day event, so several businesses in the area just shut their doors for the day.

As a precaution, officials evacuated 113 people out of 65 rooms at a nearby Delta Inn. A Via bus was brought in to transport those people to a safer area.

"One of the challenges for us right now is just the safety of the firefighters," says Fire Chief Charles Hood. "At the tail end of an incident, when things start winding down it's not as dramatic. That's when people get hurt. So we want to make sure that our firefighters continue to be safe."

The San Antonio Fire Department has set up a "fire watch" - making sure nothing is smoldering inside the structure. 

No injuries were reported.

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