A fire Thursday night at the Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa in Taos County destroyed a historic bathhouse that had been built in the 1800s by a territorial representative to Congress.
No one was injured in the fire, which crews were able to keep from spreading to other buildings.
“The walls are still standing, but the historic bathhouse will be considered a total loss,” said Taos County Fire Marshal James Hampton.
Andy Joseph, managing partner of Ojo Spa Resorts, told The Taos News spa staff assisted firefighters by using garden hoses. “We prevented it from spreading to the reception building, and that was an effort that was our own staff, plus the Ojo Caliente Volunteer Fire Department, who were the first responders,” he said.
“They were able to prevent it from jumping,” Joseph added. “And it tried.”
Joseph said the 152-year-old bathhouse, which contained the resort’s pump room and a massage area, shares a roof with the spa’s reception building.
“There was a lot of courage and effective measures that were taken to make sure that that building didn’t burn,” he said.
Firefighters from Taos and Rio Arriba counties responded to an emergency call from the spa at about 8 p.m., Hampton said. Crews contained the bathhouse blaze around 11 p.m. but had to extinguish spot fires until 6 a.m. Friday, he said.
Hampton estimated about 10 firefighting units responded due to the size of the fire and the potential for it to spread to the restaurant and other buildings as well as the wooded area.
“It was a well-coordinated effort,” he said. “We were very pleased we were able to keep the fire contained to one building.”
The state fire marshal is conducting an investigation into the blaze but has released no statement about the potential cause.
The bathhouse not only was historic but served as “an integral piece of delivering water to all of those pools,” Joseph told The Taos News. It is too early, he added, to say “what can be reactivated.”
Investigators were beginning to look through the burned rubble of the historic structure Friday morning to determine what might have caused the fire.
“We certainly have our suspicions on that,” Joseph said. “But I think we need to wait for the fire marshal to be conclusive on it.”
After a relatively uneventful wildfire season this year, Taos County has seen a number of structure fires this summer, including one at Taos Mesa Brewing early the morning of July 2, another fire at Oh My Garden Cafe & Market on July 4 and a residential fire in Arroyo Hondo on July 7.
Hampton told The Taos News earlier this week his office was seeking leads on a possible serial arsonist suspected of setting small fires around the county this summer, sometimes inside structures.
So far, he said, no suspect has been identified or arrested.
On Friday, Hampton told The New Mexican he didn’t believe the arsonist set the bathhouse fire.
Ojo Spa Resorts, which also owns the newly named Ojo Santa Fe in La Cienega, recently reopened its spa services, hotels and shops after being closed through much of the pandemic.
Antonio Joseph, a territorial representative to Congress, had the bathhouse built in 1868, making Ojo Caliente mineral springs one of the country’s first natural health spas, the company’s website says.
The bathhouse, hotel and Adobe Round Barn are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.