Jimmy Armitiage was known as a hard-working man who loved his family.
His uncle, Melvin Armitiage, said Jimmy Armitiage’s health began failing within in the past six months. He had trouble walking and remembering things. He was scheduled for an MRI later this week.
Unfortunately, Jimmy Armitiage, age 57, died in a small trailer fire early Friday morning. The 20-foot RV trailer was parked about 50 yards from Melvin’s house on the corner of Eastern and Dunnam in southeastern Hobbs.
“We never got to figure out what was going on with Jimmy’s health,” Melvin Armitiage said. “Early on, he would help me with some side jobs I did as a contractor. He was a truck driver and a heavy equipment operator for several years.”
The cause of the fire and cause of death are still under investigation. Hobbs Deputy Fire Chief Barry Young said when firefighters responded, the RV was already fully engulfed with flames. There was some initial confusion with people watching as to whether or not someone was in the RV.
“After we knocked down the fire and did a search, that is when they noted there was a body inside,” Young said of the firefighters.
Melvin Armitiage believes his nephew died in his sleep from smoke inhalation. He said Jimmy Armitiage’s health caused him to move slow and the trailer door was locked from the inside.
“There didn’t seem to be any struggle to get out of there,” Melvin Armitiage said. “The last time I talked to him was the night before when I took him some cigarettes. I worked that day and when I got home I took him a pack of cigarettes and asked him how he was feeling and if he needed anything.”
Melvin Armitiage said his nephew’s failing memory got bad enough that Jimmy Armitiage would start a conversation and then change the subject.
“I could tell he was struggling with it and there wasn’t anything I could do,” Melvin Armitiage said. “We had doctors trying to figure out what was wrong with Jimmy.”
Jimmy Armitiage had a habit of starting cigarettes and then not finishing them, his uncle said.
“I think that’s what happened because he wasn’t at the point of smoking a whole pack in one day,” Melvin Armitiage said. “He would light one up, take a couple of puffs and then put it down somewhere.”
Young said the last fatal fire in Hobbs was in 2017. Once the fire department put out the fire and the body was discovered, the Hobbs Police Department took over the investigation into the death. Once police investigators were done with the scene, it was returned to the fire department and an investigation into the cause of the fire started. Young said the body was sent to the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator where an autopsy is performed.
“It’ll be some time before we know the official cause of death,” Young said. “As for the fire, I haven’t received any preliminary report on the cause, so that is still being investigated.”
As the Armitiage family is left to mourn, Hobbs Fire Department firefighters are also dealing with the death.
“We pride ourselves on not having any fires deaths,” Young said. “When we have one, regardless of how it happened or what happened, it takes a toll on us. We don’t like to have deaths in fires. We want to do as much education as we can to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Todd Bailey can be reached at .