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Squatter starts fire inside vacant house to stay warm, firefighters called

Firefighters put out a fire at a vacant house on War Path Street on Wednesday, January 3, 2018. (Photo: Sinclair Broadcast Group)

SAN ANTONIO - Firefighters put out a fire caused by a homeless man trying to stay warm inside a vacant house.

Flames ignited at the house on War Path Street near Ingram at about 5 a.m. on Wednesday morning. A neighbor saw the flames and called 911.

When firefighters arrived, they found a man inside the house with a dog. They believe he is a squatter and set the fire to stay warm.

His mother was called to pick him up.

Investigators at the scene said the fire did not cause much damage, but they added the man was very lucky he did not burn himself or suffer carbon monoxide poisoning.

In addition, the San Antonio Fire Department issued some winter safety tips:

Never use a stove to heat a home

Space Heaters: Dust and lint may have accumulated in the space heater. Be sure to clean them thoroughly with a vacuum cleaner. Caution children not to stand too close to a space heater to warm up, as their clothing could catch fire. Give space heaters their space! Be sure that all combustible material is away from the heater, at least 3' in all directions. Plug only1 heat-producing appliance (such as a space heater) into an electrical outlet at a time.

Floor Furnaces: Floor furnaces are safest when they are equipped with a thermostat and automatic shut off device. Clean the floor furnace by removing the grate and using a vacuum to remove dust and lint from inside the unit.

Central Heaters: Clean or replace the furnace filter. Clean the entire furnace to remove dust and lint. Be sure to remove any combustible material stored in the heater closet.

Fireplaces: Inspect the fireplace and chimney at least once a year. Look for cracks in the firebox, flue, and chimney. Also check for build-up of soot inside the flue. Open the damper enough to allow the smoke and gases to escape up the chimney. Never start a fire with gasoline, kerosene, or any other flammable liquid. Always keep a good-quality metal fireplace screen in front of the fireplace whenever it is being used to prevent burning logs from rolling out or embers from flying out.

Hoarding puts first responders in harm’s way. Firefighters cannot move swiftly through a home filled with clutter. Fighting fires is very risky in a hoarding home. It is hard to enter the home to provide medical care. The clutter impedes the search and rescue of people and pets.

If you need assistance, please contact the City’s Human Services Department at 207-7830 during the hours of 7:45am to 4:30pm or 211 -24 hrs a day. If you have an emergency, please call 911.

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