Sheriff’s Office and Fire Department Respond to Fatal Fire in Kirtland

The San Juan County Sheriff’s Department, San Juan County Fire Department and New Mexico State Police responded to a fatal structure fire this morning on County Road 6740 in Kirtland.

At 5:20 am Sheriff’s Deputy Justin Rieker was traveling westbound on NM Highway 64 when he noticed the glow of a fire. He quickly called it in to dispatch and responded to the scene himself. Deputy Rieker was quickly joined on scene by Deputy Jarrod Slindee.

“When I arrived I immediately noticed the male resident of the home with a small water hose attempting to put out the fire,” explained Rieker. “He informed me that his wife was inside the home.”

“Deputy Slindee and I attempted to gain access to the home by a door we could see, however it had a lock on it, we could not see any other doors that were not already engulfed by flames, so we began trying windows. We did try to enter the home by breaking some windows, but the fire was too intense, there was just no way to get into the house.”

San Juan County Fire crews arrived on scene and began efforts to get the fire under control. It took crews from several brush trucks, tanker trucks and engines more than 2 ½ hours to completely put out the fire. The cause of the fire is being listed as undetermined.

The male resident of the home was taken to San Juan Regional Medical Center as a medical precaution. San Juan County Detectives interviewed him and were able to get a preliminary description as to the actions the residents took after discovering the fire.

“The female resident woke up around 5 am after smelling smoke, she then went into the living room of the residence where she discovered a fire,” explained Detective Cory Tanner. “She then woke up her husband to tell him of the fire. He went into the living room where he saw a small fire. He explained it was along the same wall as a small wood burning stove, yet it was not located next to the stove. He attempted to put the fire out by throwing a first one, then another blanket on it without success.”

The male resident ties fishing lures as a hobby and his supplies were near the corner where the fire was burning. When the fire reached his cans of adhesive and they popped/exploded. Apparently the contents were flammable because it caused the fire to spread and burn with great intensity. “He ran outside to grab the garden hose but when he returned the fire was too intense for him to even re-enter the house,” continued Tanner. “He was attempting to hook up the water hose when the Sheriff’s Deputies arrived on scene.”

“It is unclear at this time as to why the female resident did not or was unable to follow him out of the residence,” continued Tanner. “Her husband speculates that she stayed in the home attempting to get their dogs safely out of the residence and became trapped herself.”

Names of both residents are being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

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