Neighbors feeling loss of 2 East Side businesses destroyed by overnight fire

Fire destroyed Arena Food Mart, Anthony’s Chicken

People who live in an East Side neighborhood say they already are feeling the loss of two businesses that were destroyed by a fire overnight.

SAN ANTONIO – People who live in an East Side neighborhood say they already are feeling the loss of two businesses that were destroyed by a fire overnight.

The fire, which broke out at the corner of E. Commerce and Walters around 2 a.m. Monday, burned through a building that housed Arena Food Mart and Anthony’s Chicken.

RELATED: Security gates slow down fire crews working to put out fire at 2 businesses

Both businesses were destroyed.

“It’s sad to see something that we come to and enjoy be gone just like that, overnight,” said Juan Rodriguez, a regular customer who had visited both businesses last night.

Rodriguez lives just a short walk away from those stores and often has five children in tow.

He says it was a convenient and pleasant place to shop.

(The restaurant owner) always helped out everybody from the neighborhood. I don’t think there’s no one who can say anything bad about that person,” he said. “The man from the store was very nice too.”

While Rodriguez now has to find a new place to buy food for his family, he says he is more concerned about the business owners.

The fire, itself, presented a big concern to firefighters who arrived to put it out.

Fire crews had to pry open thick metal security gates to access and put out the fire. (KSAT 12 News)

They had a tough time gaining entry to the building because of heavy metal security gates that were place on all the windows and doors.

“This one was probably more like a bank vault,” said Capt. Don Merecka with SAFD.

Firefighters had to use circular saws and pry bars to peel back the metal coverings in order to be able to see inside the building.

Merecka said he didn’t want to send crews inside without knowing what they were facing.

“Committing crews to the interior with a fire that hadn’t shown itself in those conditions is a recipe for disaster,” he said. “The fire was deep-seated inside that building and was sealed up very tight.”

Eventually, they were able to knock down the flames and put out the fire.

Merecka said it appears it was accidental, most likely caused by electrical problems.

He says a contractor had been working on the air conditioning system and other electrical issues until around midnight.

Both businesses were closed at the time of the fire, so no one was injured.

About the Authors:

Katrina Webber joined KSAT 12 in December 2009. She reports for Good Morning San Antonio. Katrina was born and raised in Queens, NY, but after living in Gulf Coast states for the past decade, she feels right at home in Texas. It's not unusual to find her singing karaoke or leading a song with her church choir when she's not on-air.

Tim has been a photojournalist and video editor at KSAT since 1998. He came to San Antonio from Lubbock, where he worked in TV and earned his bachelor's degree in Electronic Media and Communication from Texas Tech University. Tim has won a handful of awards and has earned a master's in Strategic Communication and Innovation from Tech as well.