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Electrical Short Sparked Fire At Luna's Tortilla Factory; Owner Plans to Rebuild

Dallas Fire-Rescue officials say an electrical short caused a fire Monday that destroyed Luna’s Tortilla Factory on Harry Hines Boulevard. They say the short happened "in or near the neon Luna's sign on the South side of the building," and that the fire then raced through the attic. No one was injured in the fire.

Many remember the business when it was on McKinney Avenue before moving to its present location on Harry Hines Boulevard. The Dallas landmark traces its roots back to 1924, a time when numerous other businesses catering to the Mexican community were also springing up.

Across the street from the fire-ravaged building, family members and employees gathered on the patio deck of Restaurante Luna’s, which was not damaged.

They looked at an old photo of a family member that was salvaged from the fire.

“I was in shock. I can’t believe…this is our family business, said Maricela Baylon. “I hate to see it burning the way it was. We’re just thankful that we got all of our employees out and all ourselves out before anything happened.”

Baylon’s uncle, Fernando Luna, runs the nearly 90-year-old business.

The institution had humble beginnings. Fernando’s grandmother, Maria Luna, arrived from San Luis Potosi, Mexico in 1923, a widow with two children who spoke no English.

But she knew the growing Mexican community – many of them recent arrivals, too – craved food like they made back home.

“Everything at one time was all in one area. Everybody knows it was known as Little Mexico,” said Fernando Luna. “All the major Mexican businesses were there. The population was there. It served the community.”

The original factory was at the corner of Caroline Street and McKinney Ave, next to another Mexican food landmark, the original El Fenix.

Five years ago, Fernando Luna moved the operation to the current location on Harry Hines Boulevard.

It’s known for its tortillas and tamales, but it’s also sells favorites like barbacoa, lengua and menudo. Its customers include more than 200 restaurants.

“It’s something that we’re very, very proud of. It’s something that we don’t take for granted,” Fernando Luna said. “It’s something that’s part of us.”

Fernando Luna said he’s received numerous calls, including from some competitors.

He’s heartened by the response and also optimistic. He says rebuilding is just a matter of time.

Stella M. Chávez is KERA’s immigration/demographics reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35.