Fire breaks out at De Soto Hotel in Downtown El Paso

The De Soto Hotel in Downtown El Paso was destroyed by a fire Friday night as firefighters struggled to contain the flames.

The roof of the rundown building at 309 E. Mills Ave. collapsed and some nearby businesses were evacuated as onlookers stood around amid the smoke and near-freezing temperatures in the 30s.

The El Paso Fire Department said that the blaze was a Condition 4 fire, but no injuries were reported.

The De Soto Hotel in Downtown El Paso was destroyed by a fire Friday, Feb.  4, 2022 as firefighters struggled to contain the flames.  The roof of the rundown building at 309 E. Mills Ave.  collapsed and some nearby businesses were evacuated as onlookers stood around amid the smoke and near-freezing temperatures in the 30s.

A Fire Department spokesman said damage was limited to the De Soto Hotel through the efforts of more than 40 firefighters.

City of El Paso property records show the hotel as having 40 units.

Mayor Oscar Leeser released the following statement Saturday morning, “I am reminded daily of the courage and bravery of all El Pasoans. While I am deeply saddened at seeing a piece of El Paso history destroyed, I am profoundly grateful that we awake this morning without any loss of life due to this tragedy. We are indebted to the members of our extraordinary El Paso Fire Department who faced this emergency, and who always stand ready to protect us.”

The De Soto Hotel in Downtown El Paso was destroyed by a fire Friday, Feb.  4, 2022 as firefighters struggled to contain the flames.  The roof of the rundown building at 309 E. Mills Ave.  collapsed and some nearby businesses were evacuated as onlookers stood around amid the smoke and near-freezing temperatures in the 30s.

Michelle Lopez was one of the spectators. She said she saw the fire on Facebook and went to the scene. She said a ghost tour had been at the hotel in January, adding she thought it was possible the fire had been deliberately set.

The December El Paso City Council agenda shows that council was asked to authorize a 380 Economic Development Agreement for a $1.2 million renovation of the De Soto.

The plan was to convert the upper floors into a new hotel and lower floors into retail, according to agenda.

In January, the council approved a funding mechanism for De Soto incentives after a public hearing, but neither the minutes of the December or January meetings say whether the actual 380 Economic Development Agreement was approved.

In the agreement, the owner was to get incentives of just over $58,000 for the renovation project.

The De Soto Hotel in Downtown El Paso was destroyed by a fire Friday, Feb.  4, 2022 as firefighters struggled to contain the flames.  The roof of the rundown building at 309 E. Mills Ave.  collapsed and some nearby businesses were evacuated as onlookers stood around amid the smoke and near-freezing temperatures in the 30s.

In an email, historic preservationist Max Grossman said: “This is a tremendous loss for El Paso. The De Soto could have contributed to the ongoing revitalization of our downtown core. Instead it will join a growing list of historic El Paso buildings that were destroyed by fire.”

Grossman said the building “was originally called the Great Northern Hotel when it opened for business in December 1905. That was more than 116 years ago! The original owners were DP Stewart and JJ Crawford, who were local contractors and builders.”

His email said, “The 2017 County architectural survey determined the load-bearing brick building to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.