By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor
Fire destroyed a shop building on South Globe in Portales early Friday morning, sending thick clouds of black smoke rolling across the city.
Total damage caused by the fire, including the shop and its contents and two RVs parked inside was estimated at $650,000, according to fire officials.
Portales Fire Department Assistant Chief Darwin Chenault said firetrucks were dispatched at 12:24 a.m. to the fire at 2018 S. Globe, on the corner of Globe and 22nd Street. When firefighters arrived, the shop building, owned by Jack Jennings of Portales, was fully involved in flame.
Chenault said that Jennings was on the scene and able to unlock the building for firefighters as they arrived, but by that time the RVs, a new motor home and a RV trailer were burning. Not long after that the roof collapsed, compounding firefighters’ problems.
“Water supply was a little bit of a problem,” Chenault said.
According to Chenault there were no fire hydrants in the area and tankers had to ferry water to the scene slowing firefighting efforts. Dora Fire Department was called to provide mutual aid with an additional tanker.
Fire units remained on the scene until shortly before noon Friday, nearly 12 hours after the fire started. Chenault said tires stored in the building were still smoldering late in the morning. He said they were also likely the cause of the heavy black smoke that covered a large section of town.
“We don’t know the cause and probably never will, Chenault said. “Everything was gone, it would be awfully hard to tell. It appears to have started in the middle of the shop near the RVs.”
Chenault said after his investigation of the scene this morning he had no reason to suspect arson.
Chenault said the RVs were insured, with the newer motor home valued at $350,00 and the trailer at $50,000. The building and shop equipment, however, were uninsured.
According to Chenault, Jennings operated a trucking business out of the building.
Chenault said as many as 20 firefighters were available but because of several ambulance calls during the fire, he was unsure exactly how many were assigned to the fire.