Man charged with arson in Kirtland fire

Steve Garrison
Anthony Bill Jones

AZTEC — Police on Monday arrested a 44-year-old man suspected of causing a fire in Kirtland on Saturday that destroyed two homes.

Anthony Bill Jones was charged in Aztec Magistrate Court with negligent arson, a fourth-degree felony, on allegations he started the fire at his residence at No. 4 County Road 6263 with a discarded cigarette, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

The fire, which was reported shortly before noon Saturday, spread to No. 303 County Road 6100, where it consumed two mobile homes, five vehicles, trailers and sheds, the affidavit states. The property owner, Joshua Miller, told The Daily Times on Saturday he was visiting his wife in the hospital when he received a call about the blaze.

Jones' bond was set at $5,000, and he had not yet retained legal representation, according to court records.

A San Juan County Fire Department firefighter moves a hose while extinguishing a fire on Saturday in Kirtland.

Detective Sgt. Candice Montoya of the San Juan County Sheriff's Office said Monday that detectives continued to investigate the cause of a second fire reported Friday night on County Road 6280 in Kirtland. San Juan County Fire Chief Craig Daugherty said Monday that fire investigators determined that fire was caused by a neighbor burning weeds on his property.

Montoya said detectives would review evidence Tuesday and determine whether to pursue charges.

Daugherty said both fires started at times when controlled burns were prohibited due to high winds and dry conditions. He urged residents to contact the department at 505-334-1180 to obtain a permit before starting a controlled burn.

Amanda Romano-Kibel, disaster program manager for the American Red Cross of Northwestern New Mexico, said her agency met Monday with families impacted by the fire. 

She said anyone in need of assistance can contact 505-325-9605.

She said individuals can also contact her agency to obtain free smoke alarms.

"It's fire season," she said. "It's getting dry and hot. People need to be careful ... ."

Steve Garrison covers crime and courts for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644.