Yellow tape hangs across the entrances to Palace Avenue’s Sena Plaza today, prohibiting entry. According to a statement from Santa Fe Police, officers were dispatched to the La Casa Sena restaurant at around 4:30 this morning in response to the fire alarm. Once on the scene, officers discovered a man whom they subsequently identified as Joseph Duran on the restaurant’s roof and determined Duran had intentionally set the building ablaze. He was arrested and booked on criminal charges of arson, burglary and property damage.
The fire does not appear to have caused major exterior damage. The Sena Plaza property dates back to 1831 when, according to a historical marker at the site, one Major José D. Sena built the house there for his wife. That’s a full 15 years before Santa Fe shifted from to US control from Mexico—so the property has likely seen worse in the last 190-ish years.
Today, the restaurant is owned by Santa Fe Dining, the same company that owns Hidden Mountain Brewery, Rio Chama Prime Steakhouse and Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen among others, and according to the company’s president, Rick Pedram, the damage doesn’t appear to be too bad, though he won’t know for sure until employees can get back inside.
“We’re in a holding pattern in the sense that the state investigator is going through the building,” Pedram says. “Because it’s a crime scene, until they’re done and they remove the yellow tape, we can’t do anything. We’re waiting.”
Pedram says he believes the only real issue is water damage from the automatic sprinkler system, as well as some broken windows on the second floor. It’s possible Duran used that window to reach the roof, he says. La Casa Sena’s Wine Shop was untouched. For now, Pedram says, no one was injured, and he believes it’s more of a cleanup situation.
“The only damage I foresee is the broken windows,” he says, “and, when the sprinkler system came on, the water that poured all over the floor maybe soaked through.”
Pedram also tells SFR he doesn’t recognize Duran’s name, though he’s only been with Santa Fe Dining for two years.
“I have no idea why or who…what would get somebody to do something like that,” he says. “I don’t know who he is, but we can maybe look through our records and see if he’s a former employee.”