The fire marshal’s office is investigating the cause of a fire that destroyed a massive mansion owned by former State Senator and ex-convict, Manny Aragon.
The vacant, 5,000 square foot castle-like mansion had become a landmark in the South Valley and even brought people to the neighborhood.
Now, people are driving by to see the charred remains of the mansion.
The fire marshal had assessed the damage Thursday and county fire crews were out for about 17 hours after the fire broke out to keep an eye out for hotspots.
Fire department officials say the cause is undetermined while “numerous amounts of evidence” can be examined. So far, they’ve ruled out weather-related causes.
The county assessor’s website still shows the owner of the home as Manny Aragon.
The former state senator was convicted in 2009 as the ringleader in the Metro Courthouse construction scheme where he and others stole more than $4 million from the state.
He was released from federal prison five years ago.
Neighbors described seeing the billowing smoke over their houses late Wednesday night as overwhelming.
One man living across the street said his swamp cooler even acted as a vacuum, bringing the thick smoke inside his house.
People say despite the controversial history behind the house, they’re sad to see the landmark go.
“I think it’s a tragedy because I really liked the place. It was like Disney World,” said neighbor James Clark.
“We kind of liked the castle across the street,” said Ruben Herrera.
As KRQE News 13 reported in 2013, the assessed value on the home mysteriously dropped to zero.
The assessor at the time said that is was because the home did not have any utilities and was uninhabitable.
Neighbors add they haven’t seen anyone living at the house in at least two years.
The fire marshal isn’t expected to release an update on the cause of the fire until later Thursday afternoon while crews still collect witness interviews.
Currently, the fire marshal is inside assessing the damage while crews are monitoring for hot spots.
Bernalillo County Fire Department says one engineer from the department and two people nearby had to be treated for smoke inhalation, but they are expected to be ok.