CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Firemen from the Clovis Fire Department take time Wednesday to rest and regroup before continuing their battle with the fire at the Clovis Apartments.
Nathan Alvarado was home with his 5-year-old son Kaiden and his mother, Angela Copeland, when the fire started Wednesday morning at the Clovis Apartments. “Me and my son were playing video games and I smelled smoke,” the 34-year-old Alvarado said. “Before I could get to the door to check it out, the door bell rang. One of the maintenance men yelled at us to get out. By the time we got into the hallway we could see and smell smoke. We didn’t grab anything. We just lost everything we own. We got out. We’re OK, but I left my wallet, my driver’s license, my car keys … everything.”
All the residents of Clovis Apartments were evacuated safely, officials said.
Twelve families were displaced by the fire, according to officials.
Firefighters arrived at the complex on Martin Luther King Boulevard to find Building 8 fully engulfed in smoke and flames, Fire Chief Ray Westerman said. Westerman said the fire appeared to have started on the east end of Building 8 on the second floor.
“The fire had a little bit of a head start on us,” Westerman said. “There was active fire and smoke when we arrived. We did primary searches on the first and second floors and saw no need to evacuate any other structure.”
Westerman said the cause of the fire is unknown, but a full investigation will be launched by the fire marshal once it is safe to enter the building.
Clovis Apartment Property Manager Judy Portillo said she saw flames coming from a balcony of Building 8 around 10 a.m. and called 911. She and maintenance men Zeffrino Villarreal and Joe Garcia immediately began evacuating the building.
Amanda Sanchez was home starting the dishes when her cousin, Briana Meza, saw smoke coming from the apartments. Within minutes a police officer knocked on the door and told them to evacuate the building.
During the fire the Red Cross and New Mexico Baptist Disaster Relief set up a staging area behind Fire Station 3, on Cesar Chavez Boulevard, to assess the needs of displaced families. The Lighthouse Mission delivered lunches to fire victims and civil servants working the scene.