Editor’s note: This story has been updated throughout.
EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The home severely damaged in an overnight fire on Monday in Northeast El Paso was previously investigated by El Paso Police as a possible migrant stash house.
The El Paso Fire Department SAID there are two men in custody in connection to the fire, a 22-year-old and a 26-year-old. One is charged with arson and the second with failure to report the fire. A spokesperson with the fire department said both men are U.S. citizens and their names and mugshots will be released Tuesday.
EPFD officials said there were initial reports of suspicious people near the home in the 5700 block of Marie Tobin Drive when dispatchers changed the call to an active fire around 4:19 a.m. Monday.
Firefighters knocked out the fire by 5:04 a.m., but not before the Condition 3 fire severely damaged the home and several vehicles parked nearby.
According to EPFD, the home was vacant at the time of the fire. However, several neighbors told KTSM 9 News that El Paso police visited the home last week with multiple law enforcement agencies, including Border Patrol, to remove individuals from the home.
“As far as I know, the house was supposed to be empty after they arrested several people who were supposedly immigrants over a week ago,” said one neighbor, who didn’t want to be identified out of fear for her safety. “I did hear people yelling in the middle of the night. I was woken up one time by someone continually blowing a horn and another time by someone yelling.”
A second neighbor also said he saw EPPD raid the house last week and remove several people. He told KTSM that police removed some of them and that U.S. Border Patrol agents also took some in a van.
KTSM reached out to EPPD to confirm the investigation at the home. They said that “officers did have occasion to enter the residence while handling a call there,” but failed to offer additional information regarding their ongoing investigation.
EPFD investigators worked throughout the morning to determine the cause of the fire and ensure the fire didn’t reignite due to a hidden ember.