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Woman found at fire explosion scene identified

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The deceased person found after a Wednesday explosion and fire north of Roswell has been identified as Juanita Edwards.

Todd Wildermuth, spokesman for the Roswell Fire Department, confirmed the body of Juanita (Nita) Edwards is the person found at the incident scene at the corner of North Atkinson Avenue and Isler Road, which is just north of the city limits. Edwards is listed in county property records as one of the owners of the residence.

“Her body was found after the fire,” Wildermuth said, but he added that the cause of her death has not been determined.

According to newspaper archives, Nita Edwards was a longtime Roswell resident who belonged to several community organizations and was known to play cards at the Senior Circle and participate in New Mexico Senior Olympics bowling competitions.

The cause of the fire and explosion is still under investigation, Wildermuth said. Whether an autopsy will be performed is not known at this time.

Chaves County Sheriff’s deputies, New Mexico State Police and crews from the Roswell Fire Department and a couple of volunteer fire departments responded to the emergency that was called in at about 8:20 a.m. Wednesday.

A woman at a neighboring house that morning said she had heard what sounded like a “sonic boom” and then had gone outside the house to see smoke and fire across the street.

Tim Korte, a spokesperson for the New Mexico Gas Co., said the company detected a gas leak in the area after the fire was brought under control. It then turned off service to about 13 residences in the area that afternoon and night.

He said the investigative agencies involved include the New Mexico State fire marshal, the Chaves County fire marshal and the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission and Pipeline Safety Bureau.