Sazón in Santa Fe catches fire; no one injured

May 12, 2019

Chef Fernando Olea got the call around 9:45 a.m. Sunday.

The restaurant he co-owns, Sazón, was on fire.

“I flew down here like a crazy man,” he said some two hours later, standing on Shelby Street, where the restaurant — known for its Mexican-influenced New World food — has operated for not quite four years.

Water used to combat the conflagration swirled down the street, leaving puddles in its wake, while the scent of smoke was still in the air as Olea surveyed the damage. He said the interior of the building was flooded. The roof, he said “looks horrible.”

The city’s fire department got multiple calls about the blaze just before 10 a.m., Battalion Chief Freddie Martinez said. When the first unit arrived, he added, they spotted flames on the roof jumping 12 to 15 feet in the air.

“When we got here, we thought we were going to lose the building,” Martinez said.

He said he had assumed the fire began in the kitchen, but the blaze apparently started in an office on the upper floor. “The entire room where the fire was is in pretty bad condition,” he said.

He said firefighters took a two-pronged approach, working to contain the fire to the office inside while using hoses to cool down the exterior of the building. They contained it “pretty quickly,” Martinez said.

The fire department is still investigating the cause of the blaze.

Dean Cheek, who owns DC Knits, a clothing store located nearby on Shelby Street, said he heard fire sirens approaching and walked out on the street to see “the whole side of the building smoking so bad.”

He said firefighters arrived quickly.

Four fire engines and two ambulances responded to the scene, and no one was injured in the blaze, Martinez said.

Olea said he’s grateful for that.

“That’s the main thing, that nobody is hurt,” he said. “The material damage, we can fix.”

The restaurant is normally closed on Sundays, so it was vacant at the time of the fire, and there was no need to turn away disappointed customers expecting a Mother’s Day meal, Olea said.

“It’s gonna be OK,” he said. “I don’t know how long we’re going to be closed. I hope it’s not too long. It’s a good time for business.”

The blaze occurred just a month or so before Sazón’s owners plan to open a new Italian restaurant, Sassella, on Johnson Street near the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.