RUIDOSO, N.M. (KRQE) – The oldest building in Ruidoso, New Mexico may have seen its last days. A gas leak at The Old Mill quickly turned into an explosion and fire that led to road closures and power outages in the popular tourist town.
What started out as a call about a gas leak Tuesday morning in Ruidoso ended with flames devouring one of the village’s most iconic buildings.
“I was just sleeping and I heard this really loud boom so I came out here and I saw the smoke and smelled it,” explained Alexia Arenas.
That boom was from a gas line exploding at The Old Dowlin Mill.
“There was an explosion where the gas must have erupted inside of the building which then turned into a structure fire,” said Ruidoso Village manager Debi Lee.
The smoke could be seen for miles. Police had to close off roads for hours while they battled the flames. Nearby businesses were evacuated and power was shut off for thousands of people.
The city manager says the building looks like it’s a total loss.
“They had the building registered in the state and national historic register, so it’s a real loss to the community and it has a lot of memories to a lot of people,” Lee said.
The Old Mill was founded in 1868. It’s considered by many to be the birthplace of Ruidoso and steeped in the village’s history.
“You would’ve seen beautiful wood floors that legend says Billy the Kid danced on with members of the family that had hosted family dances here,” said Myranda Waldo, VP of the Lincoln County Community Theater.
It’s a tremendous loss for a lot of people.
“I came out here and walked on the sidewalk and saw it was that building, and I just like teared up and was just heartbroken. It’s sad to see honestly,” Alexia Arenas said.
The explosion and fire did not cause any injuries. Power has since been restored to the area.