PHARR, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The owners of Matt’s Building Materials in Pharr spoke to ValleyCentral about recovering after a fire destroyed their business.

Co-owner, Isaac Smith said their family-owned business has been a part of Pharr since 1969, which is why when a customer called him about the fire he was in disbelief. 

“Around 11:30 in the morning on Saturday, saying ‘hey it looks like there’s a fire from behind the building’ and I called my brother, and he lives behind the store, and he had already seen it and by that time it was already too late,” said Smith.

Smith said he and his family were completely heartbroken to see the devastation of their business after they put their blood, sweat, and tears into building it.

“It feels like I lost a loved one, a family member, it just felt horrible, it’s horrible,” said Smith.

He adds they always knew a fire was a possibility because the building is made from wood but after years of handling small fires here and there in the building, they never imagined it would be mostly unsalvageable.

“It’s a 30–50-year-old building and it’s mainly made from wood and we carry a lot of wood products in it and all it takes is a spark and it goes up quick,” said Smith.

Since the business has been in the Rio Grande Valley for decades, seeing it on fire was not only heartbreaking for the owners but also emotional for the first responders like Pharr Fire Chief Pilar Rodriguez.

“A lot of us have emotional ties to this facility, as far back as I can remember coming to this facility before the big boxes came to town, this was the place to come.” However, he adds because of the winds during that morning and not only took them 24 hours to contain, “we think this is the largest fire and the history of the Pharr Fire Department,” said Rodriguez.

Chief Rodriguez went on to say they must wait for a preliminary report to determine the cause of the fire, and Smith said when they can find out he and his family are determined to build their business back.

“We need to rebuild; we want to support our employees in the community. We have in this store alone about 110 employees, and their families depend on us,” said Smith.

As of right now, their plan is to stay focused on why they built the business in the first place.

“With something like this it can easily be distracting from the real picture and the real picture is the people that we are about, the community, and the people that have our back,” said Smith.

Smith added he is thankful for the fire department’s help and the community for reaching out and supporting his family.