The man believed to be responsible for setting fire to an abandoned home on May 7 has been arrested and charged with arson.
Joseph Hernandez, 32, is charged with a fourth-degree felony count of negligent arson and one misdemeanor count of criminal trespass.
About 11:15 p.m. Friday, May 7, Las Cruces firefighters were dispatched to the report of fire at an abandoned home on the 900 block of east Bowman Avenue. An alert neighbor saw the fire and called 911.
Las Cruces firefighters arrived to see flames in the front bedroom. Firefighters attacked the blaze from outside the home and had it under control within five minutes. After gaining access to the home, firefighters determined there were no occupants inside and no injuries were reported.
Approximately two weeks prior to the fire, Las Cruces police were dispatched to the home and found Hernandez on the property. Police issued a trespass card to Hernandez at the time.
Las Cruces fire investigators learned that shortly after the May 7 fire was extinguished, Hernandez showed up on scene and asked if he could retrieve some papers from inside the abandoned home. Fire investigators questioned further and learned that Hernandez was inside the home when the fire started. Fire investigators learned Hernandez discarded a cigarette that likely started the fire. Hernandez indicated he tried to extinguish the fire but was unable to, so he fled the home.
The fire was contained to one room, but the home sustained smoke and water damage. Damage estimates are not yet available.
Fire investigators obtained a warrant for Hernandez’s arrest. Las Cruces police located and arrested Hernandez Wednesday evening. Hernandez was booked into the Dona Ana County Detention Center where he is initially being held without bond.