'I was trapped': San Antonio couple rescued from burning balcony


by Marvin Hurst

KENS 5 San Antonio

Posted on March 26, 2013 at 10:23 AM

SAN ANTONIO -- Carmen Richards thought she just had to fetch a glass of water after her brother alerted her to a fire on the balcony of her son's apartment.

"I thought, 'let me go get some water to pour on it,'" she said.

But by the time she got water, it was too late.

"I was trapped," she said. "The fire was all over the doorway and it was all on the balcony."

The San Antonio Fire Department responded to the fire in the 2600 block of  NE Loop 410 just before 2 a.m. Building 13 at the Oakstone Apartment homes was on fire. The flames could be seen shooting from the rooftop.

The fast burning blaze even became an obstacle for firefighters trying to evacuate tenants. Richards, her husband Mark and their dog were trapped on a second floor apartment balcony.

"I made the mistake of going to the balcony, which was dumb," Richards said. "And so I was trapped on the balcony."

Her brother, Randy Pedroza, who lives in the same complex, was worried sick. Firefighters had to keep him from heading back toward the apartment.

"It was pretty intense, pretty bad, pretty hot," Pedroza said. "They were trapped up there on the top floor."

Richards, 57, remembered a movie she watched last week. Ironically, it was about a fire.

"It was just like you see in the movie," she said. "[A fireman in the movie] was saying even when you're trapped, you can walk through the fire."

Richards, along with her 54-year-old husband and dog, had to go back through the flames to a window, where firefighters were waiting with a rescue ladder. They all made it down safely.

"There was no other way of the second floor," said Assistant Fire Chief Robert Mikel.

Eight apartment units were threatened by the early morning fire but only two were severely damaged.

Seventeen residents were displaced during the blaze, however, most of those residents will likely be allowed back in their apartments by Tuesday afternoon.

Mikel said the fire appears to have started on the outside of one of the buildings. Arson was still trying determine the cause.

Damage was estimated at $125,000.

This was Richards' first fire. She didn't think she'd make it out. Thanks to San Antonio firefighters, she did.