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Several fire departments battle restaurant blaze in East Bexar County

Fire damages roof of restaurant connected to Exxon convenience store

SAN ANTONIO – More than five fire departments in East Bexar County worked to battle a fire early Friday at an Exxon convenience store and restaurant.

Firefighters arrived around 1 a.m. near Interstate 10 and Trainer Hale Road to find flames coming through the roof on one side of the establishment.

Authorities said a driver passing by called 911 after seeing flames showing at the San Juan Mexican Restaurant. 

"(I) noticed that there was a small flame starting, and (it) kinda quickly developed into a bigger fire," said Paul Leverenz, who witnessed the fire.

An employee inside the convenience store had no idea the other side of the building was on fire due to an interior wall that divides the businesses, fire officials said. The clerk was not hurt.

The structure of the building proved to be a challenge due to the ceiling of the restaurant not being as tall as it appears.

"When we throw ladders, we're normally going on the roof. With this (business), we have an 8-foot drop, so we have to throw another ladder to be able to climb down and get onto the actual roof of the structure. So, it causes dangers on our side due to the dangers of the building," said St. Hedwig Fire Assistant Chief Lawrence Padalecki Jr.

Firefighters said they were able to put the flames out in roughly 45 minutes, with damage primarily to the roof. The interior was affected by smoke and water.

The restaurant and convenience store will have to remain shut down for at least a day. 

"They said that we cannot open the restaurant until the health department comes back to inspect everything," said Arturo Huerta, who owns the restaurant.

Huerta believes the cause of the fire may be electrical, but the official cause will be determined by the Bexar County Fire Marshal's Office.