By Steve Hansen
QCS Managing Editor
The abandoned Payless Inn in Tucumcari and an abandoned house were destroyed in fires that occurred within an hour of each other early today.
Firefighters were battling a fire in an abandoned house at 524 N. Fourth St. beginning at about 1:30 a.m. today, when the Payless Inn fire was reported at about 2:30 a.m., Tucumcari Fire Chief Larry Rigdon said.
When firefighters arrived at the Payless Inn, 2000 W. Rte. 66 Blvd., three separate buildings on the property were engulfed in flames, Rigdon said. The blaze leveled all three buildings.
At about 11 a.m. today, firefighters were still tending smoking ruins of the motel property.
The house on north Fourth Street was still standing late this morning but was completely charred. Rigdon said the cause of both fires is under investigation through the New Mexico Fire Marshal’s Office.
The motel fire, Rigdon said, was suspicious in origin.
Five units of the Tucumcari Fire Department and 12 firefighters responded to the motel blaze, Rigdon said. They were joined by five units and seven firefighters from the District 1 Fire Department.
The owner of the Fourth Street house, Baudelio Lopez, said his daughter woke him up to tell him that smoke was coming from the abandoned house. Lopez and his family live across the street from the property, he said.
He then notified the fire department. Lopez said the abandoned house was hit by fire in 2008, but only parts of the interior burned. He said he had plans to tear down the building and clear the lot.
The Payless Inn is owned by Maggie Ventures, LLC., of Las Vegas, Nevada, according to Quay County Assessor’s Office information. The property is valued at $155,155. It had been devalued since 2013, when its value was assessed at $445,386.