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Palapa, a Chelem landmark, burns down at La Barca

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La Barca’s distinctive palapa is up in flames. Photo: Facebook via La Verdad


Chelem, Yucatán — The towering palapa atop a restaurant-bar on the Chelem-Chuburná Puerto corridor has been lost to a fire.

The fire was confined to the La Barca palapa, which served as a highway landmark. No injuries were reported, and staff was on the premises to help extinguish the flames.

Embers from a brush fire across the street, swept over in high winds, are believed to be the cause of the fire around 11:30 a.m. Monday.

Rubén Loroña, the owner of the restaurant, said the 10-year-old business was not insured for fire. The business, which was otherwise unscathed, is expected to resume this week if not today.

It will cost nearly 1 million pesos to restore the roof deck, which was also covered by a large awning, estimated one news outlet.

The bar is a popular hangout for expats who enjoy live rock music, NFL football and burgers. A charity Christmas toy-drive bingo, organized by U.S. and Canadian residents, was moved to El Bull Pen.

The owner told a local newspaper that firemen did not respond to initial calls when the fire was confined to the field across the street. They arrived on the second call, when the palapa was on fire.

Staffers had the fire under control, using their own fire extinguishers, until a brigade arrived from Progreso to finish the job. But it was too late for the large palapa, a thatched roof made of dried palm leaves.

“It was a sad accident,” he said, adding that they are still preparing for Holy Week.

“No plans to close have passed through our minds. In fact we are preparing for the Easter holiday period,” said Loroña.

The palapa area is normally reserved for special events, so the functioning of the rest of the facility is not affected.

With information from Progreso Hoy

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