Video: Suspected arson closes the doors of Old Town restaurant

Video: Suspected arson closes the doors of Old Town restaurant

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – After an arson fire shut down a historic restaurant in Old Town, they are working hard to re-open. “It’s so disappointing that really just a random act can just cause such havoc,” said Carla Villa, Owner of the High Noon Restaurant.

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The High Noon Restaurant is still dealing with the fallout of the flames that tore through its electrical system. Although the main building was spared, they are still powerless.

“The expectation was that it would be very brief, and unfortunately, the reality is we’re still trying to coordinate final permitting and inspections and re-attachment with PNM,” said Villa.

On May 21, a little before 7 a.m., police say 66-year-old Stevie Maestas wandered aimlessly into the restaurant’s parking lot. The criminal complaint says he used a rock to help break into a fenced area. He then pulled something out of his pocket and walked behind the fence off-camera toward the back of the restaurant. The security video then showed Maestas walking away from the restaurant.  About one minute later, smoke began to rise.

The flames quickly rose covering the whole screen. Owners say it caused more than $20,000 in damage. The heat of the fire was so intense it started to burn the plastic around the security camera before the camera started to lose power. The fire was contained to the outside of the original building that was built in the 1700s. Maestas is facing one count of arson.

As for repairs, restaurant workers say the electrical system has been replaced. The enclosure that caught fire also contained a stack of cardboard boxes and a pile of wood that fed the flames.

The High Noon Restaurant is hoping to open before the end of July, pending city inspections. “This was not the summer we were expecting, it was our 50th anniversary on July 3rd, and we weren’t open for that, so that was very disappointing,” said Villa.

Villa remains hopeful and hopes to celebrate once opened saying there is no time limit to celebrating 50 years.