House catches fire for third time in a week

August 16, 2009 4:12:59 PM PDT
There have been three fires within a week at one house in the Heights, two of them in just the last 24 hours. Firefighters want to know what's going on. They say the last two fires look suspicious. The first fire started in the empty half of a duplex that used to stand near West 10th and Ashford. From there, it spread to other half, and neighbors say it destroyed the home where a family of four lived. A week later, there have been two more fires and neighbors are worried this isn't over.

At Antonio Quintanilla's house, workers are replacing the windows, which he says shattered Tuesday morning as firefighters battled a blaze next door. The flames nearly reached the room where his 10-year-old daughter, Gisel, normally sleeps.

"I thought the fire was gonna go in our house and burn up all of our stuff," he said.

And almost a week later, Quintanilla says that fear is still here.

Saturday morning, this same duplex caught fire for a second time. And early Sunday morning, neighbors say they woke up again to see firefighters at work.

"Yeah, this is the third time we've made this location," said Chief Arthur Broussard with the Houston Fire Department.

Firefighters say the circumstances are very suspicious and they believe there is an arsonist at work.

"Three times! That's pretty bad," said neighbor Alejandro Amezcua, whose family lives directly behind the burned out house.

He and his wife say the fires have kept them up at night and the smoke has irritated their throats. They are now looking for a new place to live.

But after 22 years in his home, Quintanilla says he's hoping he and his family can move past this.

"It was horrible," he said.

Neighbors added a flood light out there, but that didn't prevent Sunday morning's fire. Crews leveled the house later Sunday, but neighbors are still keeping a close watch on the pile of debris.

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