Neighbors offer helping hand to fire victims who lost everything

When a massive fire consumed two houses, water cannons flooded a northeast San Antonio neighborhood Thursday. By Friday, the tide of water receded and was replaced by a flood of neighbors

One day after a massive fire consumed two houses in northeast San Antonio, caring neighbors showed up in force to help two families that lost everything in the big blaze.

"It was just amazing. I've never seen anything like it," fire victim Barba Sultenfuss said fighting back tears.

Sultenfuss said with her home still smoking, strangers offered hugs and donations.

"I couldn't believe the people that were coming up, hugging me, even little kids, putting $1 or $2 in my hand," Sultenfuss said.  

She said she is emotional not over her loss, which is massive, but for the kindness of neighbors who gave immediate aid. 

"It's a lot of comfort knowing that I have friends and neighbors that share and care about my family," Sultenfuss said.

Neighbor Sabrina Morris came to take pictures to share on social media. 

"I think as a community, the neighborhood, everybody wants to join together and help these people who are in need and I think that says a lot about a community," Morris said.

Brian Gauna, whose own house nearly caught fire as well, said "It's a pretty tight neighborhood. It's a small community. Everybody's basically on the NextDoor App and keeps everybody in the loop as to what's going on."

Gauna said with the help of neighbors, family pets that ran from the burning structures during the fire were safely recovered. 

Morris said neighbors have launched online fund drives and started collecting the items the families need right away.

"I just kinda wanted to help with the family. If we can donate any type of personal items, diapers, anything for the kids that can help out with the families since they have a total loss of everything," Morris said.

Sandra Bettoni said when she heard sirens during the fire, she came to help.

"Everybody was willing to help and we prayed together with the family and I thought it was very neat. It was an emotional time. It was beautiful to see everybody together," Bettoni said.  

While help is arriving for the victims, fear is still a factor with neighbors who worry the damaged structures may collapse and that vandals may target the area for theft or mischief.  

Today, a spokesman for the city verified that emergency demolitions have been ordered. Both damaged houses should be gone within the next three days. 

The fire department has set damage estimates at well over $200,000 for each house and said an electrical problem was to blame for the fire.

 

© 2017 KENS-TV


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