Pattie Shieh — An early morning fire damaged a family owned business in North Harris County. “He started staying here on nights a couple years ago because we had a few break-ins,” Paulino Alvarez Jr. said, explaining why his father was sleeping at their business, Aztec Factory, on Blue Bell near the North Freeway. Around 3:00 a.m. this morning, his father heard a noise, stepped outside and saw flames racing through their business.
Investigator Bryan Holmes with the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office believes the cause of the fire is accidental, “It was determined that a vehicle had a fire in the engine compartment and that fire spread from the vehicle to the building causing damage from one end to the other within the building.”
Investigators are now checking whether the vehicles, a Ford F-150 pickup, is part of the vehicles recalled in 2009. A large recall was issued because of a faulty cruise control switch that, at the time, had been linked to 550 vehicle fires nationwide.
Alvarez says his family started their business in the family’s garage more than a decade and a half ago. Between 10 and 15 relatives are employed at the company which works with fiberglass, granite, marble and also an auto body facility. The family struggles to stay afloat and cannot afford insurance. “It’s tough, we just barefuly started recuperating from the hurricane and a few robberies.” Alvarez says.
He is very grateful that his father was not hurt.