New Mexico law enforcement authorities are investigating a fire that damaged a meat company plant expected to begin processing horses next week.

On June 28, Atty. Blair Dunn, who represents the owners of the Valley Meats Co. LLC, in Roswell, N.M., announced that the company had received Food Safety Inspection Service permit, which allows placement of USDA personnel at the processing plant to carry out horsemeat inspections. Horse processing is slated to begin at the Roswell plant on Aug. 5.

Chaves County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Britt Snyder said that on July 27, a passerby saw smoke emanating from one of the plant’s machines. Upon arrival, Chaves County law enforcement personnel discovered a piece of plant equipment on fire.

“We think that someone poured gasoline or another accelerant on the machine,” Snyder said.

No one has been charged in connection with the incident.

Dunn said that a refrigeration unit and an exterior wall were damaged in the incident, but neither will prevent the plant from opening on time.

Dunn also said he was concerned about the incident: “The idea that the life of animal (is) equal to or greater than (that of) a person is a scary thought. And a radical and vehement belief in something such that a person feels authorized to threaten human life and destroy property leads to scary results. “

Meanwhile, Snyder declined to speculation about what could take place upon the plant’s opening.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen,” Snyder said.