AFR: Home invasion suspect started apartment fire

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Crews responded to a northeast Albuquerque apartment where a man reportedly broke in and started a fire Tuesday morning.

It happened at the Salida del Sol Apartments on Tulane Drive, north of Candelaria and Carlisle.

Albuquerque Fire Rescue Lt. Jason Fejer said the calls started coming in around 9 a.m. Tuesday. According to police, a man broke into the apartment looking for his ex-girlfriend. He then got into a fight and then started the fire, putting everyone in danger.

“I do know there were three people inside at the time of the fire,” Fejer said. “One of those individuals did jump off the balcony, and the other two were able to escape from the apartment, despite the fire growing as large as it did.”

Once police officers arrived on scene, firefighters were able to move in.

“The safety of our firefighters and APD is paramount,” Fejer said. “If we start getting into some of those scenes that aren’t secure, it also complicates things for them. The best course of action is for them to get in first. They make sure that scene is secure for us to enter. Then, we get in and start doing our stuff and they can do their investigation at the same time.”

Fejer said, while the fire was contained to one apartment, the surrounding units had significant smoke and water damage.

Police arrested Ricardo Veleta-Hernandez after several witnesses identified him as the suspect in the home invasion. Authorities accuse him of causing $150,000 in damages and putting four people out of a home.

Veleta-Hernandez is facing various charges, including arson, breaking and entering, damage to property, and possession of a controlled substance.