San Antonio Police Department officers block off a section of South Presa Street after a fire broke out between two downtown buildings.
San Antonio Police Department officers block off a section of South Presa Street after a fire broke out between two downtown buildings. Credit: Iris Dimmick / San Antonio Report

San Antonio police and firefighters responded to a fire between the under-construction Hilton Garden Inn hotel and historic Maverick apartments after about 10 large air conditioning units, which were “not hooked up, new in the box,” caught fire Monday around 2:12 p.m., San Antonio Fire Department Battalion Chief Connie Hall told the Rivard Report.

There were no reported injuries at the scene and firefighters were able to put out the fire in about 20 minutes, but in that time an estimated $150,000 worth of property damage occurred, Hall said. An arson unit is investigating the cause of the fire that started on a fourth-floor ledge connected to the Hilton. The building was built with a narrow space between it and the newly-opened apartment complex next door.

“It could have been many things because [the AC units] were there in the alleyway,” Hall said. “[It] could have been that somebody flipped a cigarette out.”

About 20 units – fire trucks, emergency medical service, and other support vehicles – responded to multiple calls made by various construction workers, she said. “We have a lot of companies respond to the downtown area for a high-rise and also with the heat index [during] our Texas summers – we need even more.”

Portions of South Presa and College streets were closed for more than one hour while crews investigated. Three construction workers were checked out and given the all clear from EMS personnel.

Last year, a construction accident at the Hilton Garden Inn site claimed the life of one worker, prompting an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, according to an article published in December by the San Antonio Express-News.

Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and workforce development. Contact her at iris@sareport.org