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Large fire closes popular south-San Antonio taqueria

Arson investigators are looking for a cause for the 3 a.m. fire.

SAN ANTONIO — Throughout the morning Wednesday, hungry customers pulled into the parking lot at the Taqueria El Tapatio de Jalisco on Roosevelt, only to find disappointment.

The regulars who have been coming to the small family cafe near Loop 410 in south San Antonio said they return time after time for great food at reasonable prices.

But that was all threatened just after 3 a.m. when the San Antonio Fire Department was called to fight a stubborn kitchen fire, complicated by a gas leak from a couple of large propane tanks.

The first arriving companies reported they had lots of fire coming from the side and back of the building. They also said the structure was heavily fortified with burglar bars, so gaining entry to fight the fire was a challenge.

Credit: KENS 5

Once inside, there was a report of a hissing sound coming from a leaking tank, so firefighters retreated, neutralized the propane tanks and continued fighting the fire.

Building owner Paul Cuellar said his long-time tenants are hard workers with a loyal fan base of customers.

Cuellar said restaurant owner Martin Angel and his staff of about 12 employees are a staple in a neighborhood of hard working people.

Credit: KENS 5

"Seven days a week from five in the morning until nine o'clock in the evening. Every day. Every day they are hard-working, all of them," Cuellar said.

Cuellar, who said he was retired from the contracting business, plans to get to work on repairing the building immediately.

"We're going to open again. We're not going to give up," Cuellar said.

Cuellar said several weeks ago, he was told about a threat to the property from a homeless person who stays in the area. A fire department spokesman confirms they did fight a small grass fire on the property April 24. 

They found excessive garbage and trash dumped there that was burning along with a fence in an area frequented by people who are homeless. Arson was requested for the current fire and an investigation is ongoing.

It's unclear at this point when the restaurant will reopen. 

    

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