East-side man dies after catching fire; neighbor tries to save his life

The neighbor said he considered the 75-year-old as family, but says he would have done the same for a stranger.

SAN ANTONIO - A 75-year-old man is dead Tuesday after he caught fire this morning at his home on the east side.

A neighbor across the street saw Arnold Gibbons' home on fire and ran over, broke through burglar bars on his front door and tried to save his life. 

Ruben Romero saw his friend on fire through his front door. 

"He was on fire...I got him out, I tried to help, I helped my neighbor, I tried to help my neighbor, I tried to save a man's life," Romero said. 

Romero grabbed the first thing he saw, a pillow, then ran and got flour, trying desperately to put out the flames on Arnold Gibbons' arms and chest. The young man considered the 75-year-old Gibbons family, but says he would have done the same for a stranger. 

"That's my neighbor, he's family to me, I did what I had to do, what comes instinctively, save somebody's life, anybody who needs help, you help them...you're supposed to help people, it don't matter if it was a stranger or my brother that's what you're supposed to do," Romero said. 

By the time firefighters arrived, Gibbons had died. 

"He knows the gentleman, they're friends, he knows that he has medical issues, he knows that he lived alone so he went in and tried to do the best thing that he could and so again we're thankful for that," said Fire Chief Charles Hood. 

Gibbons had been living in the neighborhood for over 20 years. His friends and family say he had worked at a local bingo hall for several years and was very popular with his friends he met there. 

"When I got the call and everything I just couldn't believe it was him, I was his favorite, baby sister he would give you the shirt off his back, he was a good person," said Evelyn Henry, his sister. 

Officials say they believe the fire started in the kitchen, GIbbons accidentally caught fire from the stove and was trying to run outside for help. 

Fire officials say they've been responding to more calls for structure fires in this cold weather. They want to remind people to stay warm, but be safe. Don't try to use a stove to warm yourself up and if you use a space heater, make sure it's at least three feet away from any materials. If you need a smoke detector, call 311 for assistance. 

© 2018 KENS-TV


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment