Family: space heater caused fire that killed man in Aurora

AURORA, Colo. — The Aurora Fire Department has not officially determined the cause of a fatal fire Thursday morning near 26th and Sable. But family members say a faulty wire on a space heater in an upstairs bedroom is the cause.

Karen Altieri says she asked her husband, 76 year old Patrick Altieri, to turn it on when they went to bed Wednesday night because she was cold.

About 3:00 a.m. Thursday, family members say a nephew woke up and smelled smoke.  He pounded on the Altieri’s door and alerted everyone else.

Karen says, “I  don’t know how I made it out, my husband was trapped.”

Five of the six people who lived at the house made it out safely, but Altieri was trapped between the fire and the door.

Karen says, “I tried to go back in, but the flame got me in the face.  He was still screaming but we couldn’t get in there.”

Stepdaughter Tammy Dunham says, “He was screaming that he couldn’t get out and he was going to die. But we couldn’t get in there. Then he stopped screaming and that was the last we heard.”

Devastated family members returned to the home to salvage what they could. They say they lost almost everything and have no insurance. Dunham says they were struggling to make it month-to-month and now do not know where they will live.

Karen Altieri says she and Patrick had been married for 30 years and he helped raise her seven children. She says “He was the greatest guy in the world, the sweetest man.”