San Juan County, NM - At approximately 5:00 am, the San Juan County Fire Department and San Juan County Sheriff’s Office were asked to respond to a call regarding a structure fire near Mesa Elementary School on Highway 491, in Shiprock, NM. Firefighting crews from Shiprock and Valley Fire Departments arrived to find an active residential structure fire in the teacher housing units adjacent to Mesa Elementary School.
An aggressive fire suppression and search/rescue operation was initiated by the responding crews. Firefighters discovered that the fire extended to the attic of the duplex structure. During overhaul one victim was found to be deceased.
The victim was identified as 51 year-old Scott Schwarting. According to reports, Schwarting worked for Central Consolidated Schools as the Athletic Director at Tsé Bit’a’í Middle School. Schwarting lived in the ‘teacher housing’ which consists of several duplexes near the Mesa Elementary School.
“He was found in the main living area of the duplex,” explained Sheriff’s Office Detective Tim Nyce. “According to our findings, it appears that the fire originated in that area.” Further investigation by the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office and the San Juan County Fire investigators revealed no signs of any accelerant. “At this point there is nothing to suggest foul play,” continued Nyce.
The Sheriff’s Office handled the case because Schwarting is non-native. The investigation is ongoing.