Safety review: Rivercenter restaurants fire history

After hundreds of people were forced into the streets, Eyewitness News reporter Sue Calberg asked what can be done to improve safety at the popular downtown attraction.

SAN ANTONIO - The final ruling on Tuesday's stubborn 3-alarm blaze at The Shops at Rivercenter will not be available for several days.

While they battled the fire, officials said they believed a grease fire was the probable cause of the heavy black smoke that blanketed the area, but a look at the history of fires at the mall reveals an interesting trend. 

After hundreds of people were forced into the streets, KENS 5 reviewed the archives to examine previous incidents.

Tuesday's 3-alarm fight is the fourth restaurant blaze in the Rivercenter restaurant area in the last seven years. 

The four fires happened on the following dates:

  • 06/27/2017    
  • 04/04/2016   
  • 06/23/2011    
  • 12/27/2010

Tuesday, firefighters had a hard-fought battle in the ductwork between Tony Roma's and Luciano's.  Fire officials said the smoke infiltrated the common ductwork and made its way into the ventilation system of the Marriott Rivercenter hotel.

Both the shopping center and the hotel had to be evacuated for hours, while fire personnel carefully traced the path of the flames.

Tuesday, Woody Woodward, with the San Antonio Fire Department, said "It was moving through the ductwork, it's continuing to move through the ductwork.  We're trying to chase it down and contain it."    

When asked about what could be done to improve safety at the popular destination, a fire spokesman said they routinely inspect new construction, occupancy changes, and remodeling jobs. They also look at fire suppression systems and emergency egress points. But, they do not routinely inspect ductwork.  

The Metropolitan Health Department inspects restaurants for cleanliness, but they do not dive deep into the recesses of ductwork either.

Debbie Sandberg, the Marketing Manager for Rivercenter with Jones Lang LaSalle, provided the following statement:

“Each tenant maintains and manages their own ductwork that services their space. They work directly with local agencies to maintain monitoring requirements. The landlord intends to work with the tenants, local agencies, and consultants to evaluate the situation.”

Sandberg went on to say they are grateful to both fire and police for their quick response and action.

A damage estimate has not been released. An official ruling on the cause of the most recent fire will probably come next week.

© 2017 KENS-TV


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