17 in hospital after deadly Texas high-rise fire

Firefighters and emergency units respond to a fire at the Wedgwood Senior Apartments, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. Five people died after a fire broke out at the senior-living apartment building in the San Antonio suburb of Castle Hills, authorities said. (AP Photo/San Antonio Express-News, Marvin Pfeiffer)

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, and officials were trying to track down the whereabouts of dozens of others, a city official said.

Officials hadn’t accounted for about 80 residents of the Wedgwood Apartments in Castle Hills, though firefighters went through the 11-story complex and found no other victims, City Manager Diane Pfeil said. She said authorities believed those residents found refuge with family or had left for the holidays before the Sunday morning fire.

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

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

Pfeil said at least 17 residents remained hospitalized Monday. About 350 people live at Wedgwood Apartments, 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 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.

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