Posted By: ABQRAW staff
Posted On: 02/06/2024 @6:45 PM
© 2024 ABQRAW All Rights Reserved - Please Request Permission Before Disseminating on Other Social Media Platforms.
Albuquerque, NM -
At 11:46 PM on February 5th, Albuquerque Fire Rescue (AFR) received a dispatch to 5005 Mountain Rd NE concerning a possible structure fire at a single-family residence. Ladder 13 (L13) quickly reached the scene in under three minutes and observed smoke emanating from the abandoned, boarded-up house.
The fire was swiftly brought under control within nine minutes of AFR arriving on scene. Damage to the structure was confined to the living room and garage areas of the home.
No injuries to civilians or firefighters were reported. AFR reports that their Fire Investigators were present at the scene to ascertain the cause and origin of the fire. At this time the cause of the fire remains undetermined.
Then around 9:25 AM on February 6th, AFR was called back out to this derelict property due to reports of another residential fire.
(Story Continues Below)
We arrived at the scene around 10:05 AM and observed multiple neighbors standing in their yards, watching AFR work at the boarded-up home. Just looking at the property from across the street, one can see a grocery cart with trash in the basket, and a wooden desk lying in a walking path of the home. The entire property is littered with trash, including numerous plastic bags, empty boxes, and an empty box of Uncrustables.
While we were taking photos of the dilapidated residence, a neighbor asked to speak with us and mentioned that this home had reportedly been set on fire numerous times by the property owner, Jake Towner. The structure's doors and windows are boarded up, and according to this neighbor, it is also tagged by the city, so no one is supposed to legally occupy the home. A city inspector came to greet the neighbor while we were interviewing him, so it was very apparent that this neighborhood has been dealing with Towner's antics for some time. The neighbor told us that this home was reportedly deeded to Towner by his mother in April of 2022, when his father died.
The neighbor showed us multiple Ring camera videos of what he reports as Towner entering the property, despite it being tagged by the city, and Towner causing mayhem, including allegedly threatening the neighbor with great bodily harm. According to the neighbor, at night, it is harder to prove who is actually setting the fires, which could potentially be why AFR's Fire Investigators have not formally been able to charge Towner with arson.
We were also contacted via email by another neighbor who told us that Towner reportedly set the home on fire twice yesterday, once before 5 PM and then the larger fire that was set at 11:45 PM. This neighbor also said that their "mailman stopped by this morning and said that he saw it (the home) on fire yesterday when he was delivering and he’s usually out of our neighborhood by 5."
We overheard a USPS mail carrier mentioning to a man walking in the area that the home was on fire the day prior when he was delivering mail. This coincides with what we were told via email.
It should be noted that APD responded to this area on 1/24/2024, when APD attempted to arrest Towner for a felony warrant. Towner barricaded himself in a vehicle and refused to exit. He was ultimately arrested by APD when he fell asleep during the SWAT standoff. We covered that incident and captured the arrest, you can watch video of the arrest HERE.
Neighbors have reported to us that Towner has frequently been arrested, only to be "released almost immediately." We checked the NM Courts database, and since January 23, 2024, Towner has been arrested three times and he is released on his own recognizance (ROR).
We reached out to AFR's PIO, Lt. Jason Fejer, who informed us that they have only responded to the property on three occasions: once on 1/24/2024 when they were on standby while APD was handling the SWAT call. AFR also responded on 2/5/2024 at approximately 11:45 PM and again on 2/6/2024 at 9:25 AM. They do not show any other dispatches or responses to this residence.
At the time of our request, Lt. Fejer from AFR did not have any information about the status of any fire investigations at this property.
Video of the APD SWAT Situation with Jake Towner from 1/24/2024