CEDAR CREST, N.M. (KRQE) – Flames ripped through a building along North 14 in the East Mountains Saturday afternoon as deputies looked on.
Exerplay, a playground equipment business started in New Mexico, has been operating in the East Mountains since 1991. It’s a staple in the community that’s now barely standing.
The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office says Marcio Lujan broke in and lit Exerplay on fire after he tried stealing from the nearby Burger Boy restaurant and then stole a car.
“When I called and talked to the owner, about what had happened, his comment was, well, it’s all just stuff anyways,” said Charles Debuck, the business manager for Exerplay.
Debuck says it’s been a rough 24 hours since the building burned down.
“There’s been a couple tears shed, but for the most parts, it’s like what’s next?” said Debuck.
Exerplay is well connected to the community – and although it might not be a name you know, you likely know their work. Just two weeks ago, Exerplay equipment was revealed at the new park in Albuquerque dedicated to slain Albuquerque Police Officer Daniel Webster.
“It was just a great experience being able to provide a playground where so many could come and enjoy, and it was, it was beautiful,” said Debuck.
Debuck said they’ve received overwhelming support in the wake of the fire.
“A complete outpouring, we probably have 20 offers of office space for free,” he said.
He said although the building has been reduced to rubble, Exerplay is still open for business. Many staff members will just work remotely.
“We really are a company of people not a company of a building,” said Debuck.
He said the company’s resilience and both the internal and external support is keeping them going.
“If you asked anyone of our employees what they loved about Exerplay, it would be the culture and what we are as a group, we’re family,” said Debuck.
The damage will be fully covered by insurance. Come Tuesday, Debuck said the staff will work to find a new location.