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RFD releases names of firefighters

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A group of people stand in a prayer circle Wednesday evening during a prayer vigil in the Wool Bowl parking lot. The vigil, organized by Christ Church of Roswell, was to pray for two firefighters critically injured in an explosion south of Roswell earlier Wednesday. (Alex Ross Photo)

The Roswell Fire Department released the names of two city firefighters critically injured Wednesday in an explosion south of the city.

Jeff Stroble, 46, and Robert “Hoby” Bonham, 36, remain in critical condition at a hospital in Lubbock, Texas, where they were transported Wednesday, according to a press release Thursday from the Fire Department.

Stroble is a fire apparatus operator and 17-year member of the department. Bonham is a firefighter who has been with the department for 18 years, the release states.

No other details about the injuries of the men were disclosed Thursday.

Stroble, Bonham and 10 other firefighters were packaging fireworks for the city’s upcoming Fourth of July fireworks display when the building they were in exploded.

The 10 other firefighters in the building at the time of the blast were checked out medically and released from the hospital with injuries all classified as minor, the release states.

The cause of the explosion is under investigation, but Lance Bateman of the New Mexico State Police said at a press conference Wednesday that no malice was involved.

Members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation issued statements Thursday about the explosion.

U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, D-NM – whose New Mexico 2nd Congressional District includes Roswell – acknowledged the explosion Thursday on her official Facebook page.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the injured firefighters and their families. Please join me in wishing them a speedy recovery,” the post stated.

The office of Sen. Tom Udall, D-NM also issued a statement.

“My heart goes out to Roswell today and my prayers are with each of the 12 injured firefighters. We wish these brave New Mexicans a speedy and full recovery,” Udall said.

Much of Roswell has had Stroble, Bonham and their families on their minds. A prayer vigil organized by Christ Church of Roswell saw a large turnout in the parking lot of the Wool Bowl Wednesday night.

Businesses within the community have planned a series of fundraisers for the families of the injured firefighters.

Sippy & Opal’s Ice Cream & Sweet Treats donated $2 from each item sold Thursday to the Roswell Fire Department.

Denny’s in Roswell on North Main Street will be holding a fundraiser Wednesday from 4 to 9 p.m. People can call the restaurant at 575-622-9960 for more information. Proceeds from the fundraiser will go to help the families of Bonham and Stroble.

Pioneer Bank has also established an account to help the families of the injured firefighters. People can make a donation at any of the bank’s local branches.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.