Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Fire, explosion shake San Antonio awake

SAN ANTONIO — At 12:14 a.m. Sunday, as Taylor Swift sang Love Story on Saturday Night Live, the residents of San Antonio heard an explosion.

"My house shook," said Steve Tillack, who lives on Michigan Avenue. "I thought a tree fell on my house."

Seconds later, people heard sirens and when they looked outside, they saw an orange glow. They followed it, some still in their pajamas, walking on sidewalks and streets with their children close, the full moon bright, washing people in silver. Students at Saint Leo University, a mile away, felt the explosion in their dorm rooms and drove to find the cause.

The epicenter was 32629 Jesse Jones Ave., a dead-end street just past Magnolia Street, not far from the town's City Hall, a few shops and a park. The house, nearly all 3,020 square feet of it, was on fire.

Jeffrey Bakshis was in his garage with a buddy and his two poodles, working on a 1973 Mustang he has been restoring, when he saw an orange flash. He ran outside and saw flames shooting from his house, which is not attached to the garage. Bakshis, 28, recently graduated from Saint Leo University. His father, John Bakshis, who lives in Tarpon Springs, owns the home. He said his son lived there alone.

The Pasco County Sheriff's Office sectioned off the area, so people couldn't get close. Fire Rescue had three engines battling the blaze. When Battalion Chief Brian Rieder arrived on the scene, he pulled his firefighters out of the house. Bakshis and his friend and pets were safe and the house was engulfed. Better to fight it from the outside.

The chief said the cause of the fire is still under investigation, but that it does not seem suspicious. The elder Bakshis said he was told the fire might have started behind the refrigerator. The garage was not damaged, so the Mustang project can continue. It's stripped down now.

Small flames poked through the crumbling roof nearly an hour after the explosion — which was likely caused by ammunition stored in the house, Chief Rieder said at 3:30 a.m., after the fire was out and he was back at the station, wide awake, like other residents of the town.

Erin Sullivan can be reached at or (813) 909-4609.

Fire, explosion shake San Antonio awake 01/11/09 [Last modified: Sunday, January 11, 2009 5:13pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Study: Tampa Bay a top market for homebuyers on the move

    Real Estate

    The Tampa Bay area is among the top markets for homebuyers who are likely to move in the next few months, ATTOM Data Solutions says.

    The Tampa Bay area is among the top markets for homebuyers who are likely to move in the next few months, a survey found.
[Associated Press file photo]
  2. Tampa lawyer Fred Ridley to be new chairman of Augusta National, Masters' home


    AUGUSTA, Ga. — Fred Ridley first came to Augusta National to compete in the 1976 Masters as the U.S. Amateur champion, and he played the opening round in the traditional pairing with the defending champion, Jack Nicklaus.

  3. Rays send down Chase Whitley, Andrew Kittredge; add Chih-Wei Hu, acitvate Alex Cobb


    After having to cover more than five innings following a short start by Austin Pruitt, the Rays shuffled their bullpen following Wednesday's game, sending down RHPs Chase Whitley and Andrew Kittredge,

    The Kittredge move was expected, as he was summoned to add depth to the pen Wednesday in advance of RHP Alex …

  4. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred moves closer to wanting a decision on Rays stadium

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred called Wednesday for urgency from Tampa Bay area government leaders to prioritize and move quicker on plans for a new Rays stadium.

    MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred talks with reporters at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.
  5. Six home runs doom Rays in loss to Blue Jays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — A curve that didn't bounce was the difference Wednesday as the Rays lost 7-6 to the Blue Jays in front of 8,264, the smallest Tropicana field crowd since Sept. 5, 2006.

    Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria (11) greets center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) at the plate after his two run home run in the third inning of the game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.