The former home of Montecito Motors, at 530 Chapala Street, is currently on fire.
The Santa Barbara Fire Department is on scene, currently cutting holes in the roof and breaking down windows and doors to allow for ventilation.
At least five engines are on scene as firefighters aggressively attack the fire. Flames can be seen coming from the roof, and the smoke is getting thicker and blacker.
The building has been vacant since the 2010 close of Montecito Motors, an upscale car dealership. The owners, father-son duo Chet and Adam Taylor, pleaded no contest to 46 felony charges of conspiracy, grand theft, and tax evasion and were both sentenced to prison terms.
UPDATE: Indy reporter Tyler Hayden, on-scene, spoke with interim Fire Chief Pat McElroy, who said it is unclear what started the fire. The smoke levels are down, and firefighters are beginning to mop up. McElroy said units were on-scene within one minute of being called, and got a great jump on the fire. There is pretty significant fire damage to one wing of the building, with smoke damage to the rest. The fire was contained just to this building.
Hayden also spoke to the owner of the building, Steve Dal Pozzo, whose family has owned the building since the 1940s. Prior to Montecito Motors, the building was a tire shop. They had a few temporary office renters in the building for awhile, but most recently it’s been empty. He had been working with the city to try to secure permits to renovate. Dal Pozzo said it didn’t appear to be forced entry, and that he was told by a firefighter it was too smoky to tell how bad the damage was.
No one was inside at the time the fire started.