LAS CRUCES, NM – Las Cruces police arrested the man believed to be responsible for setting fire to Ikards Furniture Warehouse on Monday afternoon.Billy Gene King, 71, of the 900 block of south Mesquite Street, is charged with one felony count of arson over $20,000.
Shortly after 1 p.m. on Monday, July 5, Las Cruces firefighters were dispatched to what was reported to be a rubbish fire at a warehouse at 741 W. Las Cruces Ave. Firefighters entered the warehouse and found heavy smoke and fire along the east wall of the building. The building’s sprinkler system automatically activated, helping contain the fire until crews were able to fully extinguish it. Firefighters had the fire contained within 15 minutes.
The building was not occupied at the time of the fire and no injuries were reported. Preliminary estimates put damage to the building and contents at more than $20,000. Final damage estimates are yet to be determined.
Las Cruces fire investigators interviewed two Ikards employees who were at the warehouse until about noon on Monday and learned that a man, later identified as King, requested to use a phone to call for a taxi. Fire investigators interviewed the taxi service and learned that a man named Bill requested a ride from the Ikards warehouse to his residence on south Mesquite Street.
Fire investigators located King and interviewed him about the fire. King acknowledged being at the warehouse and lighting a cigarette near the northeast corner of the building. He also acknowledged throwing a burning match on cardboard boxes located on the northeast, exterior corner of the warehouse. Fire investigators confirmed the fire started at that location and propagated into the building.
Las Cruces fire investigators obtained a warrant for King’s arrest. King was arrested Thursday morning and booked into the Dona Ana County Detention Center where he is initially being held without bond.