‘It just took a spark’: Local auto shop owner picking up pieces after fire destroys decades-old shop

Fire happened at Temple Hill Automotive on Sunday

Jeff Otto, the owner of Temple Hill Automotive, returned to his shop on Monday with his team to help clean up what was left behind by the fire.

SAN ANTONIO – A Southeast Side auto repair shop owner is devastated following a fire that wiped away decades of memories and tore down parts of the shop on Sunday.

Jeff Otto, owner of Temple Hill Automotive, returned to his shop on Monday with his team to help clean up what was left behind by the fire.

“It just took a spark to start it, but we lost all of our back shop area,” Otto said.

The fire caused the shop’s roof to collapse and totaled customer vehicles inside.

No injuries were reported, but firefighters estimate hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages to the shop.

Related: SAFD: Multiple cars go up in flames as fire tears through auto repair shop

Otto said that investigators with the San Antonio Fire Department ruled out the possibility of arson.

“Something electrical sparked and set some chemicals on fire,” Otto said. “This being an automotive shop, it’s full of oils, coolants and all sorts of flammable material.”

Along with the building, shop tools and other valuables were destroyed in the fire.

“We’ve been here for almost 70 years, collecting all these tools and equipment and it’s gonna be a pretty hard financial blow,” Otto said. “Anybody that’s ever done anything in this industry knows the equipment is expensive to replace.”

Also damaged in the fire were four customer’s cars—three of which were totaled in the fire.

Other vehicles kept at the front of the building had some smoke damage, but Otto said those could be cleaned up. He said he and his team are focusing on reopening for business in part of the building that was salvaged.

“First time in 70 years we’ve had a major incident happen like this,” Otto said. “It’s all just a matter of time. You know, we’ll get there eventually back to 100%, but it’s all gonna be a little while.”

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About the Authors:

Jakob Rodriguez is a digital journalist at KSAT 12. He's a graduate of Texas State University, where he served as the editor-in-chief of the student-run newspaper, The University Star.

Myra Arthur is passionate about San Antonio and sharing its stories. She graduated high school in the Alamo City and always wanted to anchor and report in her hometown. Myra anchors KSAT News at 6:00 p.m. and hosts and reports for the streaming show, KSAT Explains. She joined KSAT in 2012 after anchoring and reporting in Waco and Corpus Christi.