Police: Arson a possibility in fire

By Ryan Lengerich

A fire marshal has been called to investigate a fire that burned the inside of a house on Fourth Street Tuesday night.

Tucumcari Police Chief Dennis Townsend said a fire marshal will be brought in from Santa Fe possibly as early as next week. He said a fire marshal is only called when there is enough evidence to suggest the possibility of foul play.

“Anytime we have a questionable fire then we have to wait for the fire marshal to come in and make a determination,” Townsend said.

It is unusual for a fire marshal to be requested, Townsend said, and he estimated that it happens about twice each year.

The Tucumcari Fire Department was called to the scene, but police and fire authorities said that all fire investigations are handled by the police.

Tucumcari Police Sgt. Albert Baca is leading the investigation. He said he could not comment on any evidence found but that arson remains a possibility.
“That is what it looks like,” Baca said.

The fire burned the living room of the house at 1406 S. Fourth Street. David Lopez, who lives at the house, said he returned home from Albuquerque about 7:30 p.m. when he opened the door to find the television on fire.

Lopez said investigators thought the fire was electrical, but he said the television was unplugged.

“They were thinking somebody burned my house down,” Lopez said the night of the fire.

A hole in the side window could be seen, but Lopez said he doesn’t know where it came from and doesn’t know of anyone who would want to set his house on fire.

Lopez said he put the fire out with a garden hose before he was able to call police. He said he “saved the house” but lost nearly all of his belongings.