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FARMINGTON – A Navajo community is looking at ways to improve emergency response after a fire destroyed its Head Start building this weekend.

When the To'halstoii Head Start in Sheep Springs caught fire Friday night, it took first responders about an hour to arrive on scene, according to Navajo Nation Council Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty, who represents the community.

"It's an emotional loss in our community," she said.

She said the fire is an example of the slow response times that have prompted the community to look into ways of forming a community emergency response team. There will be a meeting at 9 a.m. Monday at the Tooh Haltsooi Chapter house to discuss how residents can act as emergency first responders.

"I don't want that to continue to be the status quo," she said.

Crotty lives near the building, and her oldest child attended Head Start there.

The building was not being used, but the chapter had invested funds to repair it and had hoped to reopen the program.

"(The fire) certainly has created a barrier for the kids because there is no building at all," Crotty said.

She said only a metal roof remains of the facility, and even the playground burned.

"It kind of looks like a metal tent," Crotty said.

As they watched the fire Friday, she said members of the community spoke about their memories, and her daughter recalled playing on the playground.

"That was really the only playground in our area," she said.

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.

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