Fiesta Dollar Super Store, a South Side business damaged by fire, had opened its doors for the first time only about two weeks ago, according to employees.
Jesse Martinez and his wife, Anita, arrived at the business in the 5100 block of S. Flores Street around 8:30 a.m. Thursday, hours after the flames and smoke had disappeared.
“My sister called me and she said, 'Bro, you know that store where you all work? Did it burn down?'” said Jesse Martinez.
At the time when he received the phone call, Martinez was unaware of the fire, which had broken out around 12:30 a.m. and caused about $50,000 in damage.
Jacob Mendiola, a district chief with the San Antonio Fire Department, said firefighters found heavy smoke pouring from the building.
However, they had a different battle to face before they could begin conquering the fire.
They first had to get past burglar bars on all the windows and doors.
“The high security was a real problem getting in. We had to access it from both the front and the rear,” Mendiola said.
Once they were inside, though, firefighters were able to knock down the fire within about 30 minutes.
Mendiola said it appeared to have been started by an electrical problem.
“It’s a brand new place,” Martinez said. “We’ve only been here about two and a half weeks.”
Martinez said he had spent weeks prior to the grand opening, stocking up the shelves inside the store.
His wife managed the business after it opened.
"I got ready to come to work and then that's when they called me (about the fire),” said Anita Martinez. “I was surprised.”
Now the couple is focusing on how to help the owner of the business clean up and recover.
Jesse Martinez said it also may be a good time to consider alternatives to the burglar bars, which were already on the building when the owner bought it.
“We have them so nobody will go in there and vandalize the place. But now we understand that it's hard (for firefighters) to get in,” he said. “I have to talk to the guy that owns this place.”