FARMINGTON — A Farmington man was arrested on suspicion of setting a fire that destroyed two mobile homes in a south Farmington neighborhood early Tuesday morning.
Raymond Montano, 43, was arrested at about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, while staring at the charred remnants of the two mobile homes at 707 Poplar St. The fire was reported shortly after midnight Tuesday and then again at about 7:30 a.m.
Montano is also the suspect in several other fires that have damaged property in the same neighborhood in recent weeks, according to police.
At about 8 a.m. Tuesday, Montano's aunt, who lives near Poplar Street, told a Farmington police officer that Montano informed her late Monday night that "tonight is the night" and that he was going to set the mobile homes on fire, according to court documents.
Montano, who has "666" tattooed on his hand, allegedly said the devil told him to set fires, according to court documents. He also allegedly told his aunt that he previously set an abandoned trailer on fire in the Monterey Mobile Home Park and had been questioned and released by police at the scene.
Court documents state that there have been at least three other mobile home fires near the scene of Tuesday's fire.
On Aug. 18, a mobile home caught fire on Sycamore Street, and an hour later there was a fire in the Monterey Mobile Home Park. On Sept. 4, a trailer was damaged in a fire on South Butler Avenue, across the street from Tuesday's fire, according to court documents.
A Farmington police news release stated that Montano is the suspect in several other fires in the neighborhood on Poplar Street, though it does not specify which particular blazes.
After the fire in September, neighbors told The Daily Times that there were unexplained fires in the area dating back to July.
"Everybody was in danger," said Miguel Montoya, who lives nearby, on Tuesday. "The day of (the September fire) there was flying ash all over the street. We were spraying down our home."
Montoya said he is struggling to comprehend why someone intentionally set fires to homes in his neighborhood.
"I can't believe who would do things like that to people," he said. "I wouldn't do it if they paid me trillions."
Arson is a rare crime in Farmington. In 2012, Farmington police made no arson arrests, said Farmington police spokeswoman Georgette Allen. In the past 30 days, the only reported arson was the Sept. 4 fire.
Allen said the San Juan County Sheriff's Office made three arson arrests last year, and Bloomfield police made one arrest.
Montano was charged with second-degree felony arson for his suspected involvement in Tuesday's fire. The degree is based on the amount of damage, and Tuesday's fire is believed to have caused more than $20,000 worth of damage to the estate of Filiberto Graham, which owned the burned property. In addition to the two mobile homes, Tuesday's fire destroyed two sheds and a camper.
Montano is being held at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center on a $30,000 bond.Ryan Boetel covers crime for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @rboetel on Twitter.