LOS LUNAS—Local and state fire officials continue to investigate a house fire in Los Lunas more than two weeks ago that claimed the life of it’s 82-year-old owner despite what one state official described as “amazing” rescue and lifesaving efforts by Los Lunas fire and emergency personnel.
The victim of the Feb. 12 fire was confirmed Tuesday as Everett W. Bruce, who was eight days from his 83rd birthday, according to Jimmy Vigil of the New Mexico Fire Marshal’s Office, which is investigating.
Vigil said arson and criminal activity have been ruled out, but circumstances around the fire have complicated identifying a specific cause. He said his investigation is on hold pending the investigation by the homeowner’s insurance company, “which could take a while.”
Los Lunas Fire Chief John J. Gabaldon said the fire was discovered about 4:45 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12, when emergency medical personnel responded to a call from a medical alert device at the residence at 1991 Panada Dr. S.W. When they arrived, they found flames shooting out of the front windows and roof and called in firefighters.
Vigil said firefighters entered the burning home specifically looking for the resident and found him unconscious inside in the area of the fire, “carried him outside and EMTs performed lifesaving procedures which, unfortunately, were unsuccessful. It was an amazing job for them to go inside and bring him out.”
A neighbor who witnessed the fire described the resident of the home as an older man on oxygen who lived alone and hired neighbor kids to do his yard work.
“Everybody said he was a real nice man,” she said.
“He was a good man,” Vigil said after talking to the man’s son. “It’s a great family. It’s very sad.”
Gabaldon said damage was confined to the front of the house, although it appeared to have spread through the ceiling above the front room and adjacent garage. An adjoining townhome was not damaged, although a heavy smoke smell continued to permeate the area this week.