Family says electrical fire that destroyed home could have been prevented

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ARVADA, Colo. -- A family was forced out of the home they rent after an electrical fire that they say could have been prevented. The tenant said over the past year, five different outlets inside the home have sparked and melted.

“My daughter went into my bedroom and the outlet was basically shooting sparks onto my bed,” tenant Joe Herrera said.

A charred bed frame is what’s left of the place Herrera and his family called home.

“It still just hurts to find out you basically lost everything,” Herrera said.

He rents a duplex off of 62nd Place in Arvada. He said over the last year, he’s had a perpetual problem with the outlets.

“The outlets that basically melted to nothing,” Herrera said.

After the first outlet fire, Herrera notified the landlord, who is also the property owner. That man called his electrician. The electrician told the Problem Solvers over the phone, the home is fitted with old aluminum wiring that has become loose over time. The only way to fix it – pigtail all the wires in the home with copper.

“He basically said I have to get approval from the landlord to get all the wiring switched or pig-tailed, which I did run by the landlord and basically didn’t get answer,” Herrera said.

Both Herrera and the electrician, Jerry, said this was hazard waiting to happen. While the electrician did some work, not all the wires were fixed. The Problem Solvers stopped by the landlord’s house looking for answers.

FOX 31: “Would you feel safe in this house where these outlets are just combusting randomly?”

Dan Thorn: “Well yeah – Did Jerry also tell you that he never in all is experience had three calls on the same problem?”

FOX 31: “Because it is a problem. The daughter was home and now the place is a total loss.”

Dan Thorn: “Yeah tell me about it. Burnt down my house and then sue me – that’s all I have to say.”

Herrera said he has no plans to sue. He said he was also not fully reimbursed for his security deposit and last month’s rent – totaling more than $3,600. Instead he got a check for less than half.

“He sent me a check for $1,300 saying we agreed upon it – which we never did,” Herrera said.

Now he’s forced to find a new place for his family.

“This was 100 percent preventable. He totally neglected it and now we’re at a loss we have no place to live,” Herrera said.

The Problem Solvers talked to United Way 211. The group helps provide hotel vouchers and clothing to displaced families. The Herrera family is working with them. For more information on their services click here.

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