11 News is investigating into whether a homeowner was stealing electricity. This comes after the Pueblo home burned in a Tuesday night fire.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but officials tell 11 News that it may have been started by camping lanterns found inside the home. They may have been used to provide light in the home. That’s because power was cut off from the residence.
And according to neighbors, power has been shut off for months.
11 News found that an electrical cord extends from the house two doors down to a church.
The church is Iglesia Apostolica de la fe en Cristo Jesus. We spoke with Jennifer, the pastor’s wife. She didn’t want to reveal her last name, but tells us that the man who lived in the burned home was using their electricity without their permission.
Jennifer says that it began a few months ago when they discovered that a cord was plugged into their church from the tenant’s home. They found out the man had been using their electricity for weeks.
After confronting the man, Jennifer says he told them that he didn’t have any power and just needed to use some to charge his phone and to have some light. Church officials gave him permission to use it only when necessary, and when they were not there. Jennifer believes the man was living with his friends at the house.
A few weeks later, they realized the tenant was using their electricity constantly, sometimes all day long. So they unplugged the cord and threw it on the roof.
11 News saw that the extension cord stretch from the man’s house, up a tree, over the roof of a storage shed, and down to the church’s outlet. The church officials unplugged his cord, and threw it on the roof. They don’t believe he has used the power since around Thanksgiving.
Investigators initially thought the electricity through the extension cord could have caused the fire, but then learned it was unplugged at the time of the blaze.
Another neighbor tells 11 News that the man asked to use his power as well, but he said no, unless he would pay $20 a night.
91-year-old Alfonso Maestas says it was scary scene Tuesday night seeing all the flames and smoke.Maestas pulled out the garden hose and tried to help put out the flames. He also, soaked down the side of his own house, in an effort to save it from catching fire.
“The fire was coming up out of the window there and was coming towards my house. I could tell it was getting pretty hot on the side. So I was afraid my house would catch on fire right there because it was so close,” said Maestas.
Maestas also said that he heard what sounding like gun shots. He believes there were bullets in the house that were firing once they got heated.
Maestas told 11 News the man who lived in the house was nice and friendly, but he didn’t want to give him his power unless he paid.
It is unclear if the man owned the house or was renting it. KKTV could not located the resident for comment.
There was no one home at the time of the fire and no injuries. Investigators are still working to determine the cause of the fire.
Fire officials tell 11 News that flames broke out around 8:00 p.m. in the 2200 block of W. 15th St.
When Pueblo firefighters arrived the house was fully involved with flames. They were able to knock down the fire quickly, but the home was seriously damaged. At this time, the extent of the damage has not been determined.
Stay with KKTV and KKTV.com for updates.