For the second time since Dec. 28, a large fire broke out at the Rio Rancho Jewish Center Sunday night.
It is unclear what caused the fire, but there were several reports of smoke coming from the building and of a massive police and Fire & Rescue presence around 8:15 p.m.
“We came up that little road by the park, by the First Financial Credit Union,” Ashleigh Munson, who witnessed the fire, said. “They had the road blocked off so you couldn’t turn by the park, but the whole center was involved. Black smoke was pouring out of the second story.”
The building has been vacant for years, and no injuries were reported.
“The cause is still under investigation,” said Ryan Floersheim, the information officer for RRFR. “One thing we do know is, it was an abandoned building with no utilities. No injuries to the crews, no victims on scene. The fire was s contained to the building with no damage to the nearby buildings.”
The Jewish Center, which is across the street from Haynes Park, also had a fire on Dec. 28. That investigation is still active and it’s unclear if the two fires are related.“A far as that fire investigation goes, there were reports of individual leaving the front door,” RRFR Fire Marshal Jessica Duron-Martinez said. “We were able to obtain cameras across the street from the pool area. And we don’t know if it was within the timeline of the fire when it started. So we did do an investigation with Rio Rancho Police Department. So that one is still open and active in our marshal’s office.” Duron-Martinez said the fire department and the city of Rio Rancho work together to prevent these types of fires at abandoned or vacant buildings. “We have been hand in hand with city administration, which includes the city manager and legal, to make sure that we will work with the home property, the property owners, to move forward with these properties and making sure that they do what they need to do, i.e. put fencing around them, or take the proper steps to make sure that it’s boarded up, and that’s exactly what we did after the first fire,” Duron-Martinez said. “We had got with the property owner and he came and got a company to board it up. So that is an important part of us working together with the property that catches on fire. So there is follow up after the fire.”