By Will Underhill
Security Officer Herbert Taylor was making his rounds inside the parking garage, when he discovered smoke coming from a student’s car Wednesday morning.
April Boles’ black Prius was parked on the ramp leading up to the fifth floor of the parking garage when it caught fire. Taylor called dispatch at 9:55 a.m.
San Antonio Fire Department arrived on the scene, but because of the low clearance in the parking garage they could not drive into the building.
Firefighters D. Kyrisch and G. Garza unloaded fire extinguishers off their fire truck and into the trunk of patrol Officer Mary Romero’s police car to reach the flame-engulfed Prius.
“The car had been parked and was unoccupied at the time,” Cpl. Michael Nemcic said. “It might have been a mechanical failure.”
DPS is not undertaking an arson investigation because there is no reason to believe that the fire was deliberately set. The fire started underneath the hood of the car, so it is believed that the hot engine sparked an oil or fluid leak and grew.
Firefighters’ biggest problem was the lack of water on the fith floor. The fire riser, or water pump, had no pressure so it could not draw water. The fire department had to draw water out of a hydrant at Howard Street and Park Avenue south of the garage into a pumping truck and then up to the fifth floor.
Firefighters used 16 of the 20 fire extinguishers in the parking garage, two police extinguishers and both extinguishers they brought up from their trucks before water began pumping.
Parked next to the Prius was a black Ford F150 and a silver Toyota Corrolla. The fire did not spread to the other vehicles; however, the truck suffered internal damage, and both suffered external damage because of the heat.
The owners of the three cars were taken up to the garage but could not enter their vehicles or retrieve personal items from their vehicles until SAFD gave the all clear at 10:36 a.m.