Blaze sends 3 people, including firefighter, to hospital

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FARMINGTON — The members of an extended family nearly lost their homes this afternoon after a brush fire on their property destroyed multiple structures and vehicles, and sent three people, including a firefighter, to the hospital.

San Juan County fire department units responded at about 5:15 p.m. today to reports of a brush fire near several homes along County Road 7010, about 2 1/2 miles east of the intersection of County Road 7010 and N.M. Highway 371, according to San Juan County Fire Chief Craig Daughtery.

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Firefighters from five San Juan County Fire Department districts, the Farmington Fire Department, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Navajo Nation Fire Department responded to the fire.

The New Mexico State Police and the Navajo Nation Police Department also responded to the scene.

Three sheds were destroyed by the fire, along with a travel trailer and about 10 motor vehicles, according to Daughtery. Five of the seven homes suffered exterior damage.

Fidenci Tsosie lives on the property with her extended family. 

She said her husband Kennard Tsosie and father-in-law Samuel Benally were transported to the San Juan County Regional Medical Center for injuries and smoke inhalation.

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Kennard later was released and returned to the property. 

One San Juan County firefighter was also transported to the hospital for injuries, Daughtery said.

The fire started about 4:35 p.m. when Kennard was using a torch to break down a table to house an air-conditioning unit, Fidenci said. The sparks from the torch hit the ground, and the fire spread, according to Fidenci.

She then told her 14-year-old daughter Gabriella Tsosie to call 911. 

While she waited for first responders, Fidenci said she cried as people parked their cars on the side of the road to watch the fire as her husband, son and father-in-law tried to keep the flames away from the homes.

"It took them a long time, probably like a hour to get here," Fidenci said. 

One firefighter from the Shiprock fire station was dispatched and took nearly an hour to get to the scene, according to Daughtery. Once at the scene, the firefighter called for assistance. 

Nearly 20 trucks and tanks from the fire departments were used to contain the fire.

Daughtery said there was only one Navajo Nation firefighter on call this afternoon to cover Ojo Amarillo, Newcomb and Shiprock.

"They had a lack of response. They had one person covering all these departments," Daughtery said.

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