SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) — Fire investigators are working to figure out what started a fire on a Santa Fe college campus.
Most of the building is destroyed, but this wasn’t just any building — it was part of the set for the show “Manhattan,” about the development of nuclear weapons in Los Alamos during World War II.
While firefighters can’t say what started it, they say it did raise red flags, and that has students talking.
“Maybe this is part of a scene or something,” thought Student Airon Malone.
Santa Fe University of Art and Design students didn’t know what to think about the plumes of smoke and massive flames coming from the set of the now-cancelled TV show “Manhattan.”
At first, student Airon Malone thought maybe the fire was part of a scene, “but then it started to get really bad,” he said.
Malone and two of his classmates were all on campus when the fired started. Malone was working in the fitness center.
He says once he heard the fire was spreading to nearby trees and threatening other structures, he made the call to shut down the gym and get people out.
“I wasn’t going to risk anybody’s life,” said Malone.
It doesn’t look like anyone was injured, but the “Manhattan” set is destroyed.
“On this fire our biggest challenge was accessibility. We had this area fenced off and we had neighboring structures all around it,” said Santa Fe Fire Marshal Reynaldo Gonzales.
Gonzales says that’s why it took firefighters more than an hour to get the blaze under control. He says they got the call at 8:09 p.m. Monday night.
They arrived just five minutes later to find an inferno.
Now, he’s working with Santa Fe police as part of the city’s Arson Investigation Task Force to find out exactly how it started.
“When we have fires that are in those areas, it’s going to strike as very odd to us, raise a red flag that something might be wrong here,” said Sergeant Chris McCord, Santa Fe Arson Investigation Task Force.
While firefighters sift through the debris, rumors are already starting to spread among students, especially since the school is set to close down for good.
“They’re trying to burn it down to get the insurance money, or they’re trying to burn it down because it makes kids not want to be here,” said Malone.