SAN ANTONIO -- Firefighters continue to search for a cause in the three-alarm warehouse fire that struck nearly a week ago. But already San Antonio fire investigators have uncovered some fire code violations inside the warehouse.
Fire Chief Charles Hood says the flames that lit up the warehouse were fueled by 35,000 plastic pallets inside the building.
“We had no idea of the fire load in this building,” said Hood. “All we could do is surround it and drown it and wait for it to go out.”
Hood said firefighters entered the building to find pallets stacked 5 times higher than code allows, and stacked so tightly together, there were no crawl spaces.
Hood said the towers of pallets would have affected the fire suppression sprinkler system in the ceiling, but the sprinklers weren’t turned on. Hood said that’s another code violation.
“We sent a crew in to manually open the sprinklers. The sprinkler valves had been closed. We heard the audible rush of water meaning that a large amount of water was going through the system now, which is going to control the spread of the fire,” he said.
Hood said that action helped prevent another section of roof from collapsing.
Investigators told KENS-5 the sprinkler company knew of the non-working sprinklers, and had even yellow-tagged the system in a July inspection. But that information was never shared with the city.
Hood said the citations start there, and could include the building’s leasing company and owner.
Each citation ranges from $100 to $2,000.
But the chief said that’s a drop in the larger fire bucket of how much it cost city’s taxpayers to put this fire out.
“We fought this fire for about 12 hours it was an extended period of operation for us. It was a significant fire,” said Hood.
Investigators say this fire is still under investigation, and the cause still undetermined.