The El Paso Fire Department battles blaze as the De Soto Hotel goes up in flames in a massive fire in downtown El Paso.

Armando Vela
Armando Vela

Late Friday afternoon El Pasoans began to share the news that the De Soto Hotel was engulfed in flames just after 5:30 p.m. as fire crews battled to contain the fire.

I, too, saw the pillars of smoke hovering over downtown El Paso on my way home from work and walked down to take photos and videos to share as well.

Speaking to one of the firefighters on the scene, he shared that they had contained most of the fire by 7 p.m., which burned most of the third and fourth floors of the vacant building.

The fire was so intense that the roof and fourth floor collapsed, damaging the third and second floors. Thankfully, no one was inside the building during the fire, but according to KFOX, one person was in police custody on-site; however, no other details were made available.

Clay Baron
Clay Baron

The De Soto Hotel is located at 309 E Mills Avenue next door to The Reagan, MAC's, and The Berkley, along with Luigi's Pizza and Elemi around the corner.

Luckily, none of the businesses were damaged, but the bars and even Elemi were evacuated for safety reasons as police cleared the streets around Mills, Stanton, and Franklin to make room for the more than two dozen fire units called to the scene.

The landmark building, which dates back to 1905, was just featured last weekend by The Paranormal Files on YouTube, claiming that it was one of the most haunted places ever ghost hunted in Texas.

Clay Baron from Dave's Pawn Shop even captured photos with some interesting images of faces and people in the billowing fire that singed the building.

City officials also made a statement shortly after the news of the fire, saying they were "shocked and sickened by the fire." A statement by City Manager Tommy Gonzalez read:

We believe it extremely unfortunate to see this building be destroyed by a fire, just as we were bringing it back to life with the help of a private partner who was eager and willing to re-activate the blighted hotel and work to preserve the iconic murals on the western side of the building. This restoration was one of three active historic preservation projects the City has been working to incentivize. We plan on aggressively completing the historic preservation of the two other structures in downtown.

Sadly, the City has lost another historic landmark building to a fire, and we'll have to wait for the full report from the El Paso Fire Department to see if this Condition-4 fire was intentional or an accident. We'll keep you posted as the story develops.

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