Woman arrested, accused of starting fire at Albuquerque motel

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A woman has been arrested following a fire at the Desert Sands, a well known motel on Central.

Investigators say the fire was arson, and that it wasn’t very difficult to zero in on a suspect.

The fire destroyed the majority of the 69-room motel on Central near San Mateo in the middle of the night just one week ago.

According to the criminal complaint, the motel’s surveillance cameras captured a woman leaving the area of the second-story room where the fire started, then walking away from the blaze through the parking lot.

The owners of the motel recognized the woman as Jennifer Maestas who had stayed there before.

When fire investigators caught up with Maestas, she tried to say it was someone else that looked like her, but she also said whoever did it used a lighter. She also knew exactly where the fire started, two things only investigators knew. She was also wearing the same oddly designed pants as the woman in the video.

The fire did $1.5 million in damage. The motel has been used in at least nine TV and movie shoots over the past decade.

Maestas is currently behind bars, while the motel is boarded up. Many of the people staying there were actually living there and lost everything they owned. They had to scramble to find new places to live.

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