Flames stop just 5 feet short of iconic wedding venue in northwest Austin

Travis County

Owner says all operations are normal, thanks to first responders

TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Owners of a popular Austin wedding venue are grateful to local first responders tonight.

A large fire next door threatened part of Vintage Villas on Sunday.

The flames caused some damage, but it won’t affect operations.

A close call for the iconic venue.

“We’re going to have probably five minutes, eight minutes at the top, before we have this [Vintage] Villas. It’s pretty, pretty close,” a firefighter says over the Lake Travis Fire Rescue scanner, released Sunday night.

“We have a fire running down the building on the bravo side right now.”

After nearly 25 years and more than 3,000 weddings, Vintage Villas owner Thomas Porter and his wife’s dream was close to becoming ashes.

“I got a call from one of our sales managers that the building next door to us was on fire,” Porter says.

The blaze stopped just five feet from Porter’s hotel.

Luckily, the venue was between groups and only a handful of people were on site, Porter says.

After making sure everyone was out safe, Porter asked about the property.

“They told me it was 50/50 and that really concerned me, that got me scared,” Porter remembers.

Flames also threatened an explosion.

“Stay away from the open end of the alpha side. There’s a propane tank that’s buried in fire right now,” a first responder says over the radio.

A fence around Vintage Villas’ propane tank caught on fire, damaging the tank and threatening an explosion. (KXAN/Tahera Rahman)

“When I drove up I didn’t know what to expect and when I got here I thought we might have lost at least one of our buildings,” Porter says.

Investigators believe that the fire on the property neighboring Vintage Villas was started by the property owner as an illegal controlled burn.

KXAN spoke with that property owner on Monday. He did not want to issue a statement or go on camera but says the loss was devastating to him, too.

He says he experienced $200,000-$300,000 in damage.

Porter says crews are working on his damaged windows and propane tank but he’s grateful to firefighters for business as usual.

“Thankfully this fire isn’t going to diminish any of those happy days,” he says.

On Monday, first responders said they are wrapping up the fire investigation.

The Travis County Fire Marshal is handling the case.

There’s no word yet on whether there will be a citation or fine for the illegal burn.

Porter says crews are working to safely release gas from his damaged propane tank before removing it and replacing it with a new one. (KXAN/Tahera Rahman)

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