17 hospitalized after Texas high-rise fire

CASTLE HILLS, Texas (AP) – More than a dozen people remained hospitalized Monday following a fire that killed five residents at a senior-living facility near San Antonio, a city official said.

City Manager Diane Pfeil said at least 17 residents were still in the hospital. Meanwhile, officials hadn’t accounted for about 80 residents of the Wedgwood Apartments in Castle Hills, but Pfeil said authorities believed those people found refuge with family or had left for the holidays before the Sunday morning fire.

Authorities were calling emergency contacts for those residents to confirm their whereabouts.

“It was mass confusion, needless to say, when the event occurred,” Pfeil said.

Firefighters went through the 11-story complex and found no other victims, she said.

Two of those killed were identified Monday as Jose Gonzales, 73, and Karen Rae Betz, 74, according to the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office. Names of the three other people who died were being withheld pending notification of their relatives.

A total of 150 firefighters from San Antonio and six other fire departments responded to the blaze, which was reported shortly after 6 a.m. Sunday. The fire left some “significant damage,” San Antonio fire spokesman Christian Bove said Sunday.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, though it appears to have originated on the third floor. Pfeil said she was not sure when the building was last inspected but said she would have that information soon.

About 350 people live at the apartments, Pfeil said. About 150 residents were taken by city buses to a local high school, and some family members waited at a makeshift shelter in the cafeteria for word of their loved ones. Others residents were taken to a hotel.

Property manager Entrada Management Services was arranging for the residents’ stays “if they don’t have anywhere else to go,” Bexar County Fire Marshal spokeswoman Laura Jesse said Sunday.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.