DOÑA ANA COUNTY, New Mexico - On Tuesday, Doña Ana County first responders found human remains in a home that went up in flames on Monday night, according to the sheriff.
Family members say their 65-year-old grandmother, Mary Garcia, lived at the home on Fox Road with her husband, Tony. His sister said Tony was not home at the time of the fire.
“By the time I got here, there was nothing left," said Leticia Garcia, Tony's sister. “They built this place up by scratch.”
“I couldn’t sleep last night," said Eddie Acosta, a friend of the couple. "It was terrible knowing we could not do nothing for them.”
The flames also threatened the home of Mary's next-door neighbor, Tonia Theriault. She said she last saw her neighbor at 4:30 p.m. on Monday.
“I’m just very fortunate," Theriault said through tears on Tuesday. "If it wasn’t for the firefighters, I wouldn’t have my house."
She said her heart is "destroyed" after learning her neighbor may have died.
Sheriff Kim Stewart told ABC-7 that deputies and firefighters responded to the fire at 6:45 p.m. Monday on 6640 Fox Road, north of U.S. 70 and east of Moongate Road.
However, authorities have yet to identify the name, age or gender of the person killed. At about noon on Tuesday, officials with the Office of the Medical Investigator showed the remains to family members who had gathered around the property.
"The home was fully engulfed when we arrived," Sheriff Stewart said. "The fire was so hot that as of this morning, we couldn’t get into the rubble to check for anything. This morning at dawn, we were able to go through and we were able to locate human remains."
The sheriff said a man on scene told deputies that he lived with a woman on the property. As of 10:30 p.m. on Monday, first responders had not been able to locate her. The sheriff could only confirm that they found the body of a person Tuesday, but could not confirm the gender.
“There does not appear to be any criminality involved in this tragic incident," sheriff Stewart said.