Dark clouds of smoke and the orange glow of flames punctuated the sky over midtown Santa Fe Monday evening as a structure fire burned on the campus of the Santa Fe University of Art and Design.
Assistant Fire Chief Jan Sndyer tells SFR that just after 9:30 pm the blaze was rated as a "2 alarm" fire, which means four fire engines and three ambulance units were dispatched to the scene. While fire fighters classified the burning building as "an abandoned structure," witnesses on campus said it was in the area where film crews created the set for the TV series Manhattan. Students tell SFR the area is also popular as an after-hours hangout for the party crowd and activities there sometimes included bonfires.
On Tuesday afternoon, Synder said investigators were still working to determine the cause of the fire.
City police briefly detained one person on the campus Monday night, reports police spokesman Greg Gurule. He tells SFR there was "a report of someone seeing a suspicious individual with dark clothes and a shaved head running in the area ... We located a person with that description and he said he was just watching the fire."
City spokesman Matt Ross issued a statement that notes, "The state of the fire prevented fire fighters from entering the building, and the focus is on preventing the spread to other buildings while establishing control over the existing fire."
The campus is home to several structures that served as Army barracks dating back to World War II, and Snyder said those appear to be where the fire happened. The first call to dispatchers came at about 8:09 pm and firefighters arrived on the scene less than 10 minutes later.
Students and community members were advised to avoid the area, but the sprawling campus has not been evacuated, Snyder said.
The school is wrapping up its semester. Last month, officials announced the private school would cease operations after the next school year and has advised students who are not on track for immediate graduation to transfer their credits elsewhere.