ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) — Firefighters were forced to watch a house burn Monday night as a lack of water in the City of Abilene prevented them from extinguishing the blaze.

Crews responded to the call at the 1200 block of Cedar Crest Drive just before 8:15 Monday night, where they found a house fully engulfed in flames.

The City of Abilene on Monday evening asked customers to limit their water usage to cooking and drinking only as the supply dwindled amid electricity outages that have stripped more than 20,000 customers of power in the Big Country.

Less than two hours after warning customers that the supply was limited, there was no running water in Abilene, which hindered the firefighters’ abilities to save the house.

Abilene City Manager Robert Hanna addressed the issue at a news conference Tuesday morning.

“We had a house fire. It’s not in the nature of firefighters to watch a house burn. They had to watch that house burn,” Hanna said. “There’s not much they could do but make sure the other houses around it didn’t catch fire.”

Officials say the fire was caused by a wall heater.

The house was a total loss.