Charged arsonist may be to blame for downtown fires

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – Residents of a downtown Albuquerque neighborhood have said a fire is targeting their homes after a series of fires. In an alley near the Albuquerque Press Club, some of the fire damage is apparent on a gas meter and water line for a swamp cooler. It’s a few yards from where people slept.

“I heard people outside in the alley outside the bedroom window,” said David Hayden. A week ago, Hayden woke up early to a commotion outside his home near Gold Avenue and High Street in the downtown east side. “And it was the fire department that put out the fires,” Hayden said.

Hayden saw that part of his log house was burnt down. A fire also damaged the water line to the swamp cooler and gas meter, which had to be removed. “It’s super concerning,” said Hayden. “This place was built like it was in 1920, you know it’s a log cabin.”

However, these are just a few of the damage done. Hayden said he was told there had been several fires in that neighborhood that morning. He points out that fires were also started in his neighbor’s yard across the street. Plastic melted from some of the trash cans in her lane and one trash can was completely destroyed. Hayden thinks a firebug is responsible.

“He would use some sort of liquid accelerator that he would spray on the dumpsters and on the house and along the fences and then set it on fire,” Hayden said. Police arrested Sly Jones, 49, for the fires. Court documents indicate that neighbors caught him in the act.

According to documents, Jones does not have a long criminal history but is accused of starting similar dumpster fires a few months ago, which were also in the city center. For these neighbors, they want Jones to get the help he needs. “For me, it’s a mental health issue,” Hayden said. “Catching someone doing this obviously involves mental issues.”

There have been other recent fires just west of Hayden’s house, but it is not yet clear if investigators believe they are all connected. Jones was released from prison after his arrest in April, but after the incident last week he is being held behind bars.


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