by SEAN BATURA
San Marcos police cordoned-off several blocks of Guadalupe Street for hours Saturday night as firefighters fought a blaze in the old Hughson Meat Co. building.
The fire, reported at about 8 p.m., was contained after approximately two hours, fire marshal Ken Bell said. Workers remodeling the interior of the building apparently ignited insulation by mistake with a cutting torch, though the official investigation will not conclude until approximately the beginning of next week, Bell said.
Bell and San Marcos Fire Department battalion chief Jeff Clark said it is too early to know the monetary cost of the damage to the building at 407 South Guadalupe Street. The appraisal district lists the property as being owned by Houston-based Aqua-Finn Partners and assessed at $224,920. The fire does not appear to have totaled the building.
“Structurally, it’s going to be fine,” Clark said.
Bell indicated the fire may have been worse than it had to be because workers who started it tried to fight it themselves before calling the fire department.
“That helps tremendously — not stalling on getting fire service en route. There was a delay from the people inside attempting to suppress the fire themselves. That’s always a problem for us. You never know at what point the fire is too big for you. Our advice is, if the fire is bigger than you are, call the fire department, don’t try to do it yourself. If you can’t see it or you have to do something real exotic to get to a fire, you’re not going to get it,” Bell said.
Had firefighters not acted quickly, the conflagration would have probably claimed only the Hughson Meat Co. building and not surrounding structures.
“There’s so much separation and distance between any other structure that I seriously doubt it would have gone much further than this facility,” Bell said.
The building was used by the Hughson Meat Company from 1947 until about the early 80s, said Jane Hughson, who was on-scene Saturday as firefighters contained the fire. Hughson, a former San Marcos city council member and recent graduate of the fire department’s first Citizens Fire Academy, said the building was a big part of her childhood.
“It was owned by my dad, my grandfather, my great-uncle, and my dad’s brother-in-law,” Hughson said. “A lot of people used the meat company, it was a big part of San Marcos. Before we had the big grocery stores, this was where you bought your meat. Or, if you had some big function coming up and you needed a lot of meat, this is where you went.”Email | Print