About 30 cats and kittens were evacuated from a pet shelter last night after a fire swept through an adjoining business in a shopping plaza on Airport Highway at Westwood Avenue.
Firefighters were called about 9:15 p.m. to Los Gallos Mexican Restaurant in the Swiss Village shopping center. Battalion Chief Brian Byrd said heavy smoke and fire were coming from the roof over the restaurant when firefighters arrived.
A second alarm was called at 9:25 p.m. because of the concern the businesses shared a common attic space, increasing the possibility that the fire could have spread throughout the building.
Firefighters and police officers went into the Lend-A-Paw Foundation and Puppy Nursery adjacent to the restaurant. They removed cats and kittens that were in cages and placed them outside the building on the sidewalk. Chief Byrd said the shelter received smoke damage. He believed the animals would be returned to the building by early today.
Chief Byrd said the fire spread into the attic above the restaurant. He did not have a cause of the fire or a damage estimate. The Recovery Room, a lounge on the west side of the restaurant, received heavy smoke damage, he said.
The bar, the restaurant, the pet shelter, and three other businesses in the plaza were empty when firefighters arrived. Chief Byrd did not know if the bar was open. A fire investigator was called to the scene last night.
Ruben Gonzalez, who is the co-owner of the restaurant, said he left about 9 p.m. and went to his home on South Avenue, where he learned the business was on fire. He said firefighters told him that the fire started in a back room, where the air conditioning and heating units are located.