Blaze destroys house

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By David Giuliani

Firefighters responded to a blaze at 1515 S. Pacific St. early Monday afternoon.

Authorities blocked off nearby streets as hoses were pointed toward the house, which has a large front yard.

The smoke from the blaze could be seen around town, and as usual, that drew traffic to the westside neighborhood.

City Fire Chief Phillip Mares said the house was unoccupied at the time of the fire, but a resident, Douglas James, who lives on the property, was not displaced because he lives on another place on the property.

Mares said the cause of the fire to the 100-year-old structure is still being investigated. He added that much effort was spent preventing damage to adjoining residences.

“A fire of this magnitude involves a multitude of agencies,” Mares said. He listed the City Gas Company, PNM, city police, San Miguel County Sheriff’s Department, the City Gas Department and the City Public Works departments as instrumental in helping fight the fire. In addition, “people from the Gallinas and Sapello volunteer fire departments showed up,” Mares said.

Margaret Sanchez and her neighbor Sun-Day Martinez were visiting when they heard a commotion along with fire and police sirens.

“We saw police racing to the scene, and wondered what they were doing. When we went outside we saw huge flames. Our neighbor told us a house down the street was on fire, the flames were shooting out of the roof,” Sanchez said. “Firemen were already spraying water on the roofs of houses next door so they wouldn’t catch fire.”

“I was visiting with Margaret when we heard a lot sirens, then another neighbor told us there was a fire just two houses down the street. When we walked outside, flames were just shooting way up into the sky,” Martinez said.

Fred Salas lives in a house on the hill just below the house that was on fire.

“I started smelling smoke, and about that time the police knocked on my door. I was worried my house would catch fire, because the fire was so big. I thought it was going to explode. I grabbed my dog and evacuated my house,” Salas said.

West Las Vegas Middle School student Alex Alirez was playing outside in the neighborhood as police and fire fighters were racing to the scene. 

“I looked over the fence and I could see the fire, so we came to see what was going on. I’ve never seen such a big fire except on television. The firemen did a good job, but they look very tired,” Alirez said.

Tammy Shirazi was shopping at Auto Zone on Mills Avenue when she saw the smoke.

“Oh yeah, I could see the smoke from Auto Zone, so I followed the smoke to see what was going on. When I arrived the roof was in flames, it was a pretty big fire. I took a picture from a long way off — I take pictures of everything. It looks like the houses on both sides are safe, and I thought the fire was just about out, l but I went around to the back and there was still a huge blaze,” Shirazi said.