SAN ANTONIO – Not long before a fire broke out at a Northeast Side restaurant early Tuesday, someone had been inside preparing food, according to San Antonio Fire Department investigators.
"It's obvious that someone was here this morning," said SAFD Capt. John Flores. "Someone was here prepping for this day's business in the kitchen."
A battalion chief said beans and other food had been left unattended on a stove inside Sary's Mexican Restaurant in the 6100 block of Montgomery Drive.
The person who was cooking had already left the business by the time firefighters arrived.
Later, a man who identified himself as the owner told KSAT 12 News that he was the person who had been there.
He said that he arrives every day around 3 a.m., prepares food for the day and takes a short nap in his truck.
The owner said that is what he also did Tuesday morning, only this time he woke up to flames.
"It was on the front and left corner where the kitchen is. It had already vented itself through the front window, so there was fire coming out the front window," Flores said in describing the scene when firefighters arrived around 5 a.m.
Firefighters knocked down the fire quickly and kept it from spreading throughout the strip mall.
But smoke did seep into the barbershop next door called Kuttin Korners.
"I got lucky. All I got is a lot of smoke damage and they kind of tore the top roof panel," said Jarvis Williams, the barbershop owner. "Once I got that call, my worst fears were that my barbershop was going to be gone."
Williams said while he expected the worst, his business escaped with relatively minor damage.
Still, it forced him to close his doors for the day.
"It's going to hurt us a little bit, but the main thing is that everybody's OK," he said.
Firefighters said the damage to the restaurant is extensive, which forced the eatery to remain closed until further notice.
Although firefighters suspect the unattended food played a role in the fire, they called in arson investigators to try to locate the exact cause.