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Monday, July 15, 2024

Suspicious fire forces closure of 13th Street, JJ Clarke area

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(Elizabeth Lewis - Daily Press)
(Elizabeth Lewis – Daily Press)

The Artesia Fire and Police Departments are investigating a suspicious fire that has led to road closures in the area of 13th Street and JJ Clarke Drive.

An APD officer patrolling the area just after 5 a.m. today spotted five- to six-foot flames emanating from the storm drain below the bridge at 13th and JJ Clarke. Upon arrival, firefighters with the AFD discovered the plastic pipe within the drain was on fire.

Fire Marshal James Abner says part of the ground in the drain collapsed as a result of the fire, forcing road closures due to concerns about structural safety.

The northbound lanes of 13th Street between Mahone Drive and Yucca Avenue are currently blocked, as is JJ Clarke from 10th to 13th streets. Motorists are encouraged to find alternate routes through the area.

Cmdr. Lindell Smith of the APD says it is unknown at this time when the roads might be reopened, and visitation to the area is also discouraged, as road crews, investigators and engineers are on scene working on a plan to stabilize the area.

Abner says no natural ignition sources were located in the area of the fire, which is being treated as suspicious in nature.

Anyone with potential information regarding the incident is asked to contact the APD at 746-5010 or the AFD at 746-5051.

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