SAN ELIZARIO—A house fire threatened historic buildings in a tiny Texas town on a historic mission trail Thursday near the border.
Along with the flames, firefighters had to contend with several hundred rounds of ammunition stockpiled in the burning home.
“That’s ammunition, bullets. That’s a lot of them,” said Al Borrego, an artist who lives in the town. He and others gathered outside heard a series of loud popping sounds as the ammunition exploded.
Homeowner Martin Prieto said he had stockpiled at least 500 rounds of ammunition in the garage.
“I just go shooting sometimes,” said Prieto.
Nobody was injured in the fire, but several homes nearby were evacuated.
San Elizario is a favorite with artists, tourists and history buffs. Borrego, and other residents, watched and worried as firefighters worked to keep the flames from spreading to an old adobe structure next door.
“You’ve got 17 historic sites here in the district dating back to the early 1700s,” said Borrego.
The fire was near the old mission church. San Elizario is also home to an old jail where, according to legend, outlaw Billy the Kid broke a friend out at gunpoint.
A colorful mural depicting the jail break is painted on the wall of the El Bandido Cantina and Restaurant next door.
It’s on a street lined with art galleries and shops.
“We’re lucky right now the wind is blowing this way. As you can see it’s keeping it away,” said a relieved Borrego, who owns an art gallery in San Elizario.
Firefighters were investigating the cause of the blaze.
“It’s a total loss,” said Prieto, who lived in the home for 16 years.
As he looked at the smoldering rubble, he was reunited with his little black Chihuahua who ran up to him as firefighters put out the last flames.