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South-Central El Paso fire affected more than just building owner

Thursday’s massive South-Central El Paso fire that ripped through the Las Vega’s Bar, some apartments upstairs and a car shop next door, didn’t just affect the business owners or the area residents.

Customers of the auto repair business stopped by the shop on Friday, asking if their vehicles had been consumed by the blaze.

The bar and shop are located on the 3100 block of Alameda.

Sandy Bond said she paid Franco Auto Electric Repair $700 to fix some electrical problems on her son’s ’97 Classic El Dorado Cadillac. She said a shop employee managed to haul the car off the shop during the blaze. She said the vehicle is damaged. “It had smoke damage and the tires were melted and the car is completely damaged,” she said.

Bond said she ran into the owner on Friday afternoon but answers were in short supply. “I asked him what he was going to do and he said he didn’t have insurance on his business, that none of these buildings were insured.” ABC-7 was unable to reach the owner of the shop.

A man who works across the street and witnessed the blaze said, initially patrons of the bar and the auto repair employees did not seem very alarmed. “People from Francos Electric (Auto Repair) started coming out and I guess they didn’t take it seriously because they came out and saw the fire and smoke and they’d go back inside with no real hurry. Then the smoke got thicker and we started seeing smoke coming out of their shop and that’s when they started running inside getting the cars out and moving them into the street,” said Jesus Garcia.

Fire crews didn’t go inside the Las Vega’s lounge building Thursday night, concerned the roof would collapse. Investigators said it’s unclear where exactly the fire began or why.
The city’s code enforcement website confirms the building underwent a fire inspection last year and no violations were issued.

Bond is now considering meeting with an attorney to evaluate if anything can be done about her damaged car. “I even asked him (the shop owner) that he’d have to pay for the towing but he said he didn’t have insurance so it appeared he doesn’t have money. I don’t know how someone can run a business without insurance.”

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