SUNLAND PARK, N.M. — Firefighters found a man dead inside his mobile home on Maple Ct. following a house fire Thursday morning.
Fire crews first responded at 7:55 a.m. Thursday, then were called back out shortly before 6:00 p.m. when the family was boarding up the home and noticed sparks coming from the ceiling, and also said there were smoldering tar buckets inside the house.
According to Sgt. Javier Diaz with the Sunland Park Police Department, the fire was ruled accidental.
Fire investigators said some kind of combustible material was too close to a space heater, and ignited the blaze.
Neighbors identified the man who lives in the home as Manuel Alvarado, who was in his late 50's.
Alfredo Gomez, a neighbor, said two young men ran inside the home and yelled for Alvarado owner to get out.
Gomez said there was too much smoke, and the two young men had to run back out of the home and wait for firefighters to arrive, leaving their neighbor inside.
Sgt. Diaz said both the floor and ceiling of the home collapsed, trapping Alvarado inside.
"Unfortunately, we did discover that the homeowner of the house did pass in this fire," said Sgt. Diaz.
Guadalupe Aguirre has lived next door to Alvarado for more than 25 years, and she is the one who called 911.
"The flames were huge and I was really afraid that they would spread to my house," Aguirre said.
Firefighters had to call for backup from surrounding fire departments to try to knock down the flames.
"Mutual aid went out where agencies from all over the Southern Dona Ana County to include El Paso Fire Department, Santa Teresa Fire, La Union, Dona Ana County Fire and the South Valley Fire Department responded to assist with this fire," said Sgt. Diaz.
According to Diaz, investigators said Alvarado was using his kitchen stove to keep the house warm, and investigators initially suspected that it contributed to the fire.
Investigators have not determined the official cause of death for Alvarado.
Neighbors said he lived in the house by himself, and that he had recently separated from his wife.