Faulty neon sign to blame for 2-alarm blaze at Luna's Tortilla Factory

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by MADELINE SCHMITT and DAVID SCHECHTER

Bio | Email | Follow: @davidschechter

WFAA

Posted on June 17, 2013 at 12:32 PM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 17 at 7:52 PM

Luna's Tortilla Factory

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UPDATE 6/18: Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesman Jason Evans said the cause of Monday's fire at Luna's Tortilla Factory was determined to be accidental, and the result of an electrical short in the "Luna's" neon sign on the south side of the building. That fire then spread to the attic.

Investigators also noted there were several birds' nests built inside the hollow lettering of the sign, which may have contributed to fuel the fire after the short.


EARLIER: DALLAS –– Fire officials are investigating the cause of a two-alarm blaze that broke out inside Luna's Tortilla Factory in northwest Dallas late Monday morning. 

Firefighters responded to a structure fire in the 8500 block of Harry Hines at 10:43 a.m., said Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesman Jason Evans.

When first responders arrived, they saw smoke coming from the roof of the one-story building. Within minutes, flames broke through the roof line.

Evans said a number of workers were in the building at the time the fire started but were safely evacuated. No firefighters were injured in the blaze, which was contained by noon.

Firefighters made an initial attempt at an offensive fire attack, but the quickly-moving flames forced them to retreat and shift to a defensive approach.

By 12 p.m. there were few visible flames; first responders used ladder pipes to knock them down. Crews are currently sifting through debris to locate and extinguish the remaining hot spots.

According to the restaurant’s website, Luna’s was celebrating its 89th year in business. It was founded by great grandmother Maria Luna in 1924. The company supplies more than 200 local restaurants, hotels and clubs with tortillas. 

Luna's Tortilla Company, though, is more than a place. It's people. Some have worked here for more than 30 years. Others, like Fernando Luna, Jr, were born into the business.

"I am fourth generation. There's a fifth generation that's one of our delivery drivers,” Luna, Jr. said.

The Luna restaurant, which is next to the tortilla plant, remains open. But the fire that gutted the Luna tortilla factory is a heavy blow to Fernando Luna, Sr.

"Walked outside and sure enough there was fire in that little attic area there. And after that it just grew quick, quick,” said Luna, Sr. who was inside the building when the fire started.

Though his aunt, father and grandmother built the business Luna, Sr. carried it forward by building up the capacity to make 800 dozen tortillas an hour.

His son, Luna, Jr., worries about the toll the loss will take on his father.

“It's just hard. Every time I look at my father and he's staring at the building. It's hard,” said a tearful Luna, Jr.

But his father vows to rebuild. In the interim, they may use the restaurant kitchen to make tortillas and temporarily buy product from competitors until they can resume making their own.

 

Regardless, Luna, Sr. pledges no one will miss a paycheck.

Email mschmitt@wfaa.com dschechter@wfaa.com

 

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