Two suspicious fires strike within 25 minutes in Tucumcari

Left photo: An abandoned mobile home and outbuilding burn in the 2000 block of Rock Island Street, Tucumcari: Right photo, Tucumcari volunteer firefighters Edgar Shipley, left, and Lucas Benevidez fight a garage fire at 403 E. Aber St., Tucumcari.

Left photo: An abandoned mobile home and outbuilding burn in the 2000 block of Rock Island Street, Tucumcari. Right photo, Tucumcari volunteer firefighters Edgar Shipley, left, and Lucas Benevidez fight a garage fire at 403 E. Aber St., Tucumcari.

By Steve Hansen and Thomas Garcia
QCS Staff
Three buildings, none occupied, were destroyed in two fires reported within 25 minutes of each other Wednesday evening in Tucumcari.
Both fires are considered suspicious in origin, Tucumcari Fire Chief Shane Warner said.
In the first fire, reported at about 6:10 p.m. Wednesday, an abandoned mobile home and a garage located in the 2000 block of Rock Island Street were destroyed.
Warner said volunteer firefighters from the Tucumcari  Fire Department and Rural 1 Fire Department extinguished the fire on Rock Island Street. He said the structures were unoccupied and no one was injured during the fire.
Warner said he has requested an investigation from the state fire marshal’s office.
In the second blaze, reported at 6:30 p.m., a garage in the 403 E. Aber Ave. was reduced to a blackened skeleton by the flames.
Firefighters stayed at the East Aber Avenue fire until about 7:10 p.m. Wednesday.  Warner said the structure would be leveled, since it had been weakened too much to stand.  An Xcel Energy crew also took down the electric service to the home.
Jonathan Brito, who lives in the home at that address, said he had chickens and ducks in the garage.
Wednesday’s fires repeated a pattern seen in several recent structure fires since last September, in which one fire follows another within an hour.
The first of those fires occurred on Sept. 3, when the Payless Inn burned down in a fire that was reported about an hour after a blaze that destroyed an abandoned house at 524 N. Fourth St.
Former Tucumcari Police Officer Dustin “Dusty” Lopez is facing felony arson charges in connection with those fires, along with Robert Sandoval and Dani J. Martinez, both of Tucumcari.
On Sept. 26, an abandoned house at East Main and South Dawson streets, Tucumcari, was destroyed and a second abandoned building damaged in suspicious fires, according to Larry Rigdon, former Tucumcari Fire Chief.
On Nov. 30, a fire of suspicious origin struck a shed behind an abandoned home in the 600 block of South Eighth Street. Only the shed was damaged, Tucumcari Assistant Fire Chief Scot Jaynes said.
On the way to that fire, firefighters were notified about something burning in the 700 block of South Eighth that appeared to be a cactus, Jaynes said, but firefighters saw the smoke from the shed a block north.
The Tucumcari Motel burned down on the night of Sept. 5, and while the origin of that fire was suspicious, the motel was the only building that burned that day, fire officials said.

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