RIO COMMUNITIESThe new year begins with a tragedy as a Rio Communities man died in a house fire Monday evening.  

Rio Communities Fire Chief Andrew Tabet said crews were dispatched at 7:38 p.m., Monday, Jan. 1, in response to calls for a house on fire, with a person possibly trapped inside.  

The home is in the 2600 block on N.M. 47, north of the Allsup’s Convenience Store. 

First on the scene, Tabet said “the fire was heavy coming out of the structure.” He said deputies and officers with the Valencia County Sheriff’s Office and New Mexico State Police advised him they believed there was someone in the home. 

“When fire personnel arrived, they and myself conducted a search and we were able to locate a person and pulled him out,” Tabet said. 

An AMR ambulance was on scene and personnel performed lifesaving measures, but the man was pronounced dead at the scene, Tabet said.  

A second person living at the home was able to get out before fire personnel entered the structure. He was transported to the University of New Mexico Hospital, the chief said, with injuries related to the fire.  

“I’m not sure of his condition at this time, but the last report (Monday night) was that he was in stable condition,” the chief said. 

The name of the man who died hadn’t been released as of Tuesday morning, with Tabet noting the New Mexico State Fire Marshal’s Office was conducting the investigation and would notify the man’s next of kin before making his name public. 

Tabet said the adobe home sustained heavy damage during the fire and was the only structure damaged in the blaze.  

“This was not an easy one,” the chief said. “Thankfully, with our relation with Valencia County and Belen fire, we were able to make a good work effort together.” 

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Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.