South Main Street house damaged by fire

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The cause of a fire at a vacant home is unknown following a blaze Tuesday that destroyed the structure on the 1100 block of South Main Street in Belen, according to Belen Fire Chief Manny Garcia.

Garcia said the house, which he estimated to be vacant for about two years, caught fire about 11:30 p.m. in a neighborhood near Court and Main streets.

Brent Ruffner-News-Bulletin photo: A vacant house was destroyed Tuesday after the building caught fire on the 1100 block of South Main Street in Belen. The incident was the second in Belen in the last week where a vacant house caught fire.

The fire chief said there was no utilities connected to the building at the time of the fire. He said the trees and brush around the structure made it tough for law enforcement to patrol the area to ensure no transients were ever in the house.

Garcia said there was graffiti on the walls, but said it’s unknown if anyone was in the home when emergency personnel responded.

Last week, Belen fire crews responded to a vacant house that was burning on the 500 block of 12th Street in Belen. The fire started in the roof area near the kitchen and dining room. The cause of that fire is undetermined and still under investigation.

“Vacant buildings are prone to have transients in them,” Garcia said.

Garcia said the cause of the latest incident will be tough to determine since the property owner of the HUD home has not given the fire department officials permission to do an investigation. The fire was contained to the front room and front porch of the structure.

“They did not provide us consent,” Garcia said.

The fire chief said a proposed city ordinance would require home owners to pay a registration fee for vacant buildings within the city limits.

The homeowner’s preference, however, is that the house be demolished, the fire chief said.

Garica said he was pleased with the efforts of the crews. Nine firefighters from Belen and Rio Grande Estates responded to the fire. Crews were able to contain the blaze and put out hot spots within two hours of the initial call.

“It was a pretty good response time,” Garcia said.


-- Email the author at bruffner@news-bulletin.com.