SANTA FE, N.M. — The workshop of a Santa Fe Spanish Colonial furniture maker on the 400 block of Rodeo Road was totally destroyed by fire late Thursday night.
The cause of the blaze, which forced the closure of a section of Rodeo Road between Old Pecos Trail and Sawmill Road until about 1 p.m. Friday, is unknown and under investigation.
Leonel Capparelli, who along with his brother opened the business in 1986, politely declined to speak with a reporter Friday afternoon at the site of his burned workshop.
Online sources indicate Capparelli’s business, Hands of America, specialized in manufacturing Spanish Colonial and New Mexican furniture, repair and restoration, and custom designs made from new and recycled salvaged material.
Some of his work can be found in upscale Santa Fe hotels, including the Inn of the Anasazi, Hotel Loretto and the St. Francis Hotel.
Santa Fe Fire Department Assistant Chief Jan Snyder said the fire was reported between 10:30 and 11 p.m. Thursday. By the time fire crews arrived a short time later, the building was fully engulfed in flames.
Snyder said the fire was contained within about an hour, but because of all the heavy lumber and material that provided fuel for the fire it took about 12 hours to extinguish all the hot spots.
Just the workshop was destroyed. An adjacent building that serves as a showroom was unscathed.
Snyder said initially three fire trucks and 17 firefighters responded to the blaze. He said up to 30 fire personnel attended to the fire and heavy equipment was later called in to remove large amounts of wood and debris.
According to an article that appeared in the Santa Fe magazine Local Flavor, Capparelli is a native of Uruguay born to Italian parents.
When he was 22, he followed his brother Dardo to Santa Fe where they opened a woodworking business together, having learned the trade from their father. His brother moved to Spain about 10 years later, and Leonel has been operating the business himself ever since.
Capparelli takes pride in creating furniture out of discarded material and considers himself an artist. “Being an artist … it doesn’t mean what kind of education you have, it’s the ability of creating something out of nothing or out of things you have around,” the article quotes him as saying.
Rodeo Road reopened Friday afternoon after a fire at a manufacturing shop closed the roadway Thursday night.
The fire started around 10 p.m. at the “Hands of America” furniture shop at 401 Rodeo Rd, according to an alert from the Santa Fe Office of Emergency Management. “It was fully involved when we got there,” Santa Fe assistant fire chief Jan Snyder said Friday morning.
Fire units were still on the scene Friday morning mopping up, and there was a large amount of wood and debris that needed to be moved with heavy equipment, said Snyder.
The fire, which went to two alarms, was knocked down within about an hour, said Snyder. Several fire engines and about 20 firefighters fought the blaze. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Rodeo Road was closed between Sawmill Road and Old Pecos Trail until around 1 p.m.