SAN ANTONIO --
Investigators are looking into arson as a possible cause of a fire at an abandoned factory along Frio Street.
They said a blaze broke out in an abandoned peanut factory Saturday night, and endangered a busy hotel just a few feet away. Firefighters said it's a dangerous building and it's not the first time something like this has happened.
An official on the scene said the building, which directly neighbors the Microtel hotel, is a big fire hazard. He said the spot is also attractive to vagrants and has caught fire several times in the past.
Witnesses said the fire began as just a few wisps of smoke.
"We saw smoke coming out real slowly, and so we pulled into the fire department, knocked on the door, and the guy came and checked it out," said a witness.
From there, witnesses said the blaze picked up speed.
"When he opened the door, I guess that's when it got air, and it really sparked up," said a witness.
Officials evacuated people staying at the Microtel hotel, as firefighters worked just a few feet from their rooms.
Inside the factory, firefighters said burning piles of debris created thick clouds of smoke.
"Some of the trash piles had some pretty heavy fire, because of the size of the piles themselves," said Steve Boldway, acting district chief. "It was a little hard to get to and the building was dangerous, so we had to be careful going in there."
Firefighters said that because the old, empty building makes an attractive target, they think the cause was arson. They added that it wasnt the first time the building caught fire.
"It is definitely a danger. I've got code compliance coming out to take a look at it, just to make sure we don't need to take further actions to make it a little safer," said Boldway.
He said the building is an ongoing safety concern since it's so close to the busy hotel.
Despite the blaze's proximity, the hotel was not damaged and guests were allowed to return to their rooms.