Tuesday fire destroys top floor of Crabtree Building

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A fire damaged most of the upper portion of a building on the 200 block of Fisher Avenue near Socorro’s Historic Plaza on the evening of Tuesday, May 29, in Socorro.

T.S. Last/El Defensor Chieftain: A fire investigator surveys the damage from a balcony of the Crabtree Building.

The fire at 207 Fisher Ave. housed the Bookkeeping and Tax Service office owned and operated by Wendi Otero. It knocked out windows, charred the entire second story and caved-in the roof. No one was injured.

Chief Joe Gonzales of the Socorro Fire Department said the blaze was likely started due to electrical issues.

“It’s an old building,” he said.

The attic of the office was engulfed in flames when fire trucks arrived shortly after the call came in about 6:45 p.m., said Gonzales. The burning building was located diagonal to the U.S. Post Office and practically across the street from the fire station.

The first fire truck arrived on the scene two minutes after the call came in. Chief Gonzales said 12 Socorro firefighters and another dozen members of the San Antonio Fire Department worked until about 9:30 p.m. to get the fire controlled and down to its embers. The fire was extinguished at 10:40 p.m.

Gonzales said some personal items belonging to the building’s owner were reportedly lost, and the fire probably caused as much as $120,000 worth of damage to the building.

“That’s a conservative estimate,” he said.

Gonzales said firefighters contained the flames to the building, preventing it from jumping to neighboring buildings, which include city hall, Bank of America and the Fitch Building.

Both the Fitch Building, constructed in 1914, and the building in which Otero’s business was housed, the Crabtree Building, hold historical significance to the town. The Crabtree building’s original steel frame was smelted on the mesa west of town then lugged to its current location. It was also a blacksmith shop and a hardware store before Otero made it her office.

For now, the Crabtree Building’s front door is boarded up and the blinds are drawn on the windows.

Otero said most of her business records were spared from the fire because they were on the first floor. The file cabinet kept our smoke from the fire and water firefighters used to extinguish the blaze and other records had been backed up on computers and kept off site.

Otero said the fire mostly destroyed furniture on the second floor, which she estimated was worth $30,000 to $40,000. Some personal items, she said, can never be replaced.

Otero has moved her Bookkeeping and Tax Service business to the former Jackson Hewitt building at 411 Spring St. The phone number to the business is expected to be working by Monday.