4-Alarm Fire Torches San Antonio, Texas Buildings


A four-alarm fire raced through two buildings, leaving devastation in the heart of downtown San Antonio.

One of the buildings is historic and dates back to 1880.

The fire started just after 4:15 a.m. Saturday and quickly grew to a three-alarm blaze that required more than 60 fire personnel, San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood said.

Fire investigators believe the flames started in a barbecue restaurant before spreading to a ballroom located just above.

Heat and fire from that building quickly caught the adjacent building on fire, Hood said.

The fifth floor of the 21-story River View Tower, which houses the city's finance department, is essentially gutted, he said.

Smoke and water from firefighting efforts heavily damaged the sixth and seventh floor and the floors below.

One wall of the historic building collapsed, and city officials were deciding whether any of the structure can be saved.

The building was designed by architect Alfred Giles and opened in 1880, a conservation society official said.

It is one of just two remaining structures surrounding Main Plaza from that period.

The building is owned by the Carter family, and has served as a commercial operation since the 1880's.

It housed the Bell's Furniture Store, and recently has been used as a restaurant, including the barbecue restaurant that burned in the fire.

Fire crews spent several hours at the fire scene removing burned and fire damaged material, and trying to pick through the fire's remains for anything worth salvaging.

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