A blaze at a high-rise apartment building for senior citizens claimed the lives of five last Sunday. The cause has yet to be determined.
Five people were killed, some were injured, and others are missing after a fire broke out at Wedgwood Senior Living Center on Sunday, December 28. The local fire department responded to reports of the fire at around 6am, followed by backup from other emergency responders.
Hundreds of seniors were evacuated, which proved difficult because many of them were confined to beds or wheelchairs and had to be carried out. Many of the injured were taken to San Antonio Military Medical Center and Methodist Hospital. Officials are reporting injuries such as smoke inhalation and burns.
The fire is believed to have started on the third floor of the 11-story building, which also housed some businesses. The building is inspected regularly, with the last inspection occurring in September 2014 with no reported violations.
The building does have smoke detectors, but no sprinkler system. Because the building was built in 1962 when sprinklers were not a requirement and grandfathered in 2012, the fire chief noted that only a major building renovation would have warranted the addition of a sprinkler system.
The cause of the fire has not been determined, but the investigation is ongoing. Some residents speculated that an unextinguished cigarette might have been the culprit, because although the building recently became non-smoking, many residents had not given up the habit. An investigator from Castle Hills, the San Antonio suburb where the senior apartments are located, investigators from Bexar County, and state arson investigators are on the case.
Public records indicate that the building is managed by Entrada Management Services and owned by Wedgwood Senior Apartments LLC and Bellamar Texas LLC.
In addition to uncovering the cause of the fire, officials have been vigilant in trying to track down much-needed medications for the residents who were evacuated. Many of the seniors rely on the medications that were destroyed in the blaze.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by this tragic fire.