Two men charged with arson for fire in Belen

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Two Belen men have been charged with arson in connection with an Oct. 2 fire that destroyed a mobile home near Bernard Avenue and Third Street in Belen.

On Thursday, police arrested Phillip Hart, 60, on one count of arson and one count of conspiracy after police said he burned down a mobile home after receiving a citation for having it on the property illegally.

Police also charged Eric Sanchez, 24, with the same charges following the incident. Police are still looking for Sanchez.

The mobile home was fully engulfed as crews arrived on scene that day. After a few minutes, a few loud pops that sounded like gunshots went off as the building collapsed from what was apparently tires giving into excessive amounts of heat on the bottom of the structure.

No one was injured.

According to a criminal complaint, Sanchez told police in an interview on Oct. 3 that Hart was upset over a citation and being told to move the mobile home off of the property. He said Hart agreed to pay him $100 to be a lookout while he set the fire.

Sanchez told police he saw Hart gather paper and place it on the living room floor. He said Hart used lighter fluid to ignite the pile of papers, the report said.

He told police the two walked to his home on Third Street before they walked back to the scene and lied to police, the report said.

Crews were able to contain the fire to the lot where the mobile and another travel trailer were located and moved a few propane tanks that were located inside the trailer.


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