Monument Fire claims long-time family restaurant
SIERRA VISTA, Ariz. (KGUN9- TV) - On Monday, Monument Fire evacuees began trickling back into restricted areas to take a first look at the damage. Many found their homes lost to the blaze that burned out of control Sunday afternoon. A total of four businesses also burned. One of them was Ricardo's Mexican Restaurant, an icon in the Sierra Vista community.
"It's family run and owned, so it's part of our home. It's part of who we are," said David Aguirre. His father Ricardo opened the business in 1978 and since then he's been working with David and his other son, Sam.
The family toured the smoldering ruins of the restaurant Monday afternoon to take pictures for their insurance agent. 9 On Your Side reporter Jessica Chapin was invited along to see the damage first-hand. Collapsed walls, piles of rubble, and charred remains of furniture were all that was left. Each structure, still standing or destroyed, was surrounded by a black lawn burnt from the flames.
On scene, the Aguirres found firefighters who worked to save their business. After Ricardo thanked them for their effort, one explained what happened.
"We tried to catch it at this back fence back here, but the 60 mile an hour winds came up so fast we had to back up here. We did what we could up front," said one firefighter. The firefighters said they were forced to cut their hose line and save themselves once the fire became too much for them to handle.
The restaurant isn't the only thing that's lost. David, his wife, and their 4-year-old son lived nearby. Their apartment burned to the ground. Sam's home was spared.
"I might've lost a home and my job," he said, pointing to his father. "Twenty years of memories for us and 40 for him."
To add insult to injury, Ricardo also lost all of his possessions in the fire. Sam quickly explained that the family moved Ricardo's furniture when he had to evacuate from his home.
"We evacuated Mom and Dad out of their house and we put all their furniture in the restaurant because they live in Miller Canyon," he said. "The house is still in tact but the restaurant burned."
The family is sticking together through this tragedy, and they have more support than they expected. Emails are still rolling in from loyal customers, striking emotion in the three men who didn't realize how many lives their business touched.
The Aguirres say they do plan to rebuild in the same location and they already know who to hire for help.
"From concrete all the way up we're going to use local people to rebuild," said Sam, "because they've always helped us. They're there every weekend giving us business so now it's time to repay back to them."
The Aguirres hope to rebuild in less than a year.