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2016-06-30

Fires in house, plane reported

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Photo by John Stith
A house in Pebble Beach in Lakehills was completely destroyed by fire during the early morning of Sunday, June 19.



Last week, in the early morning hours, a house fire was reported in Lakehills. By the time fire units arrived on the scene, however, the structure was completely engulfed in flames.
A call to emergency dispatch came in at 12:54 am, Sunday, June 19, about a structure fire in the 300 block of White Bass in Pebble Beach. “The homeowners were asleep and were woken up by a fire alarm going off,” said Bandera County Fire Marshal John Stith in an interview on Monday, June 27. “By that time, the entire two-story home was filled with smoke. Also, after the homeowners vacated the house, they reported seeing flames coming out the back of the house.”
By the time firefighters with the Medina Lake Volunteer Fire Department arrived at 1:18 am, the fire was “rapidly becoming fully involved,” Stith said. Members of the Pipe Creek VFD were called for backup.
“At that point, everyone realized the house could not be saved,” Stith said. He added that the firefighters then went into a “defensive mode,” working to prevent damage to adjacent structures. The fire was declared under control at 2:51 am and the personnel left the scene at 6:06 am.
The homeowners sustained no injuries; however, EMS medical personnel treated several firefighters for exhaustion. “No one was transported,” Stith said.
Although the nearest fire hydrant was located 1,000 feet from the house, Stith said that the hydrant’s location did not play a factor in the home’s 100 percent loss. “The availability of water really wasn’t a factor in this fire,” he said. “The home was fully engulfed by the time firefighters arrived.”
"At the time of the blaze the home was under renovation", Stith said. He continues to investigate the probable cause of the fire and has consulted with an investigator sent by the couple’s insurance company.
In a related bit of business, Stith also revealed that a light plane flying over Bandera County had apparently been struck by lightening. The strike occurred during a powerful electrical storm the evening of Saturday, June 25.
“Emergency 9-1-1 operators noted that several people had called to report that they had witnessed lightening striking the aircraft,” Stith said. He estimated that the calls had come in between 6 pm and 6:30 pm during the storm.
“One reliable witness I spoke with personally said that the plane’s engine appeared to be on fire, but that it looked like the fire was extinguished before the plane flew into a large cloud,” Stith said. The witness apparently lost track of the plane after it entered the cloud.
“Personnel with the Medina Lake and Pipe Creek Fire Departments were notified about a possible aircraft on fire, but the plane could not be located,” Stith continued.
To assist with the search, air traffic control at the San Antonio International Airport were contacted, but officials indicated that small aircraft flying over the Hill Country do not necessarily file flight plans, according to Stith. A subsequent call to the Federal Aviation Administration also produced no information.
“If the plane had gone down, I’m sure the pilot would have sent out a distress signal,” Stith said, “but we heard nothing.” Although two fire trucks were dispatched, eventually the search was called off due to lack of additional information.
“The plane could have turned toward Hondo or San Antonio or even landed on an airstrip located on a local ranch,” Stith speculated. “Other than that, there’s really not a lot of information about this incident.”