ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - A historic former hospital and convent has been gutted by a damaging and dangerous fire. Now arson investigators are looking for whoever set the nearly 100 year old building ablaze.
"It's just mind boggling and it's just a real selfish act for however did this," Taos Volunteer Fire Chief Jim Fambro said. "This building has been everything from the actual hospital for Taos to a nunnery to a morgue."
Built in the 1920's, the Holy Cross Convent building was empty when the fire started early Wednesday morning.
"There were no utilities to the building which leads us to believe the fire had to be human caused," said Fambro.
The fire department was called around 3 AM but Fambro believes the fire had been going for hours inside the basement before they got the call.
He says it was a tough fight, "nine hours later and about a million gallons we were proud to at least have this and not a wisp of smoke since then."
It took the firefighters such a long time to get fire under control because the building has been remodeled several times and the roof had been patched; which means there were spaces where the fire could get in and run and the firefighters couldn't get to it.
The city dug trenches to keep the neighborhood behind the convent from flooding. Chief Fambro says they found a fire extinguisher in the basement where the fire started, "When we found it, it looked to us like it had just recently been used."
While they wait for answers residents have been streaming by the charred remains; paying their respects to history.
"Think of all the people who came and went from here. All the births the deaths the marriages," Melissa Bryan, a Taos resident, said. "You can't rebuild things like that."
Two firefighters suffered minor injuries and have since recovered. Two other volunteer fire departments joined the fight to put out the blaze. The fire chief says they found signs vagrants had been living inside the building.
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