There were five fires within the city Moriarty in March, including one fatality.

Moriarty’s Fire Chief Todd Hart said that number is unusually high.

“The average amount of fire calls [for Moriarty] is six, and five are usually automatic alarms,” Hart said. “There have been six in the last three weeks and it’s a lot for us.” The Moriarty Fire Department also responded to a fire at Walmart in Edgewood March 11.

On March 27, Moriarty Fire Department responded to a residential structural fire in the Parkwood neighborhood.

“Witnesses reported smelling smoke as early as 11 p.m. on March 26 but it was a cold night so they thought it was someone using a fireplace,” Hart said.

The fire department received the call at 2:57 a.m. and were on the scene by 3:03 a.m. “By the time we got there, the whole building was engulfed in flames,” he said. That fire resulted in one fatality.

Hart said the cause of the fire is unknown. Because it is still under investigation, officials have not released the name of the victim at this time, Hart said.

The Torrance County Fire Department, Moriarty Fire Department and Santa Fe County Fire Department all responded to the call.

On March 17 there was a fire at Lisa’s Truck Stop in Moriarty. Hart said the Moriarty Fire Department got the call for the fire at 10:18 p.m. and arrived on the scene at 10:25 p.m.

Hart said a building with the mechanic shop in it was completely sealed with the exception of a single bay door that was opened approximately six to twelve inches on the southwest side of the building.

Firefighters were told by people gathered in the parking lot that there might be a person inside.

Firefighters tried a door on the east side of the building and “encountered a tire rack that was on fire and blocking entry,” Hart said.

Next they tried a second door, and got inside, but couldn’t find the door to the main part of the building because the smoke was so thick. He said from there they had to try a third door and found a small bathroom and still could not gain access.

From that point, Hart said his team used a thermal imaging camera to locate that door and finally gain access. “We found the individual eight to ten feet from the door. We went straight in and got him out,” the chief said.

Firefighter EMTs James White and Robert Dodd were the ones who removed the person from the building. Hart said, “Once the gentleman was rescued, the fire was controlled within fifteen minutes.”

The man was rescued, survived the fire and the building was saved. “All the damage was on the east side of the building,” he said.

The cause of this fire is still under investigation by the state fire marshal, Hart said, again not releasing the man’s name. Moriarty Fire Department, Torrance County Fire Department and Santa Fe County Fire Department all responded to the fire.

Most recently, on March 30, the department responded to a fire at the Moriarty Airport.

Hart said they received the call at 4:52 a.m. and arrived on the scene at 5:01 a.m. He said, “The gentleman who discovered the fire was inside, and he got out with no injuries.” The fire consumed a hangar and the fire chief reported a total loss of the structure. He said the same three emergency entities responded to this fire; the cause is also still unknown and under investigation.

On March 27, the Moriarty Fire Department responded to a second residential structure fire in the Parkwood neighborhood.

Hart said, “It was a kitchen fire that started when the stove caught fire. It was two or three houses down from [the other Parkwood fire] and it was mitigated within fifteen minutes.”

On March 3, the Moriarty Fire Department responded to a residential fire at an abandoned house off of N.M. 41. He said they were dispatched at 4:44 a.m. and arrived on the scene at 4:53 a.m. He said the same emergency response team responded, Moriarty Fire Department was the first on the scene and the jurisdiction was turned over to the Torrance County Fire Department. He said they saved over 60% of the house and the fire consumed the living room, kitchen and bathroom.

At first the fire department suspected arson, Chief Hart said, adding that there doesn’t appear to be any connection between the fires currently.

Tamara Bicknell-Lombardi
Tamara Bicknell-Lombardi

Tamara has worked for The Independent off and on for several years, as an integral part of this family
business. She currently does reporting, manages the ad sales team, and serves as office manager. She is
an artist, working primarily in oil paints.