Fire at Mr. Taco causes $1 million in damage


By Pat Sherman

Three businesses remain closed after a grease fire broke out in the kitchen of the Mr. Taco restaurant at 7918 Ivanhoe Avenue, at about 5 p.m. Feb. 9.

Firefighters were alerted to the blaze at 4:58 p.m., after employees fled the building, said San Diego Fire Department Battalion Chief David Pilkerton.

The fire spread to a Postal Plus business next door, though not to the Wall Street post office adjacent to Postal Plus, as some had feared.

Jack Hart, owner of New World Artifacts, on the other side of Mr. Taco, said smoke from the fire left a “sticky black” coating over the contents of his store, which is on the other side of Mr. Taco. New World Artifacts, Mr. Taco and Postal Plus remained shuttered Tuesday morning.

Renee Savage with Capital Growth Properties said the businesses are expected to reopen. The management company is working with insurance representatives for the businesses and the building owner to “outline the scope of work that needs to be done.”

“We’re working diligently to get them open as soon as possible,” Savage said.

Ellen Knodel was walking to dinner with friends on Wall Street when she saw flames coming from the rear of Mr. Taco.

“I thought the flames were going up the post office wall,” Knodel said

Fire crews entered Mr. Taco from the alley, knocking out the flames at about 5:15 p.m., then headed to the Postal Plus, which sustained damage to a shared wall and the rear of the building.

Firefighters next went to the second story offices where the smoke was headed to secure the area, then checked to make sure the fire hadn’t spread to the attic.

“Because this is a long strip mall we had the potential to lose all these businesses if the fire got in the attic,” Pilkerton said

No physical injuries were reported in the incident. Arson investigators estimate the fire, smoke and water damage to be a combined total of about $1 million, including $500,000 to the contents of the businesses and $500,000 to the structure.