DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – 14-year-old Zulia Catalan sobs into her father’s chest. “I miss my house,” she says. It was just over a week ago that a fire broke out at the Stratford Hill apartments in Dallas, destroying the Catalan’s home and two others.
Dallas firefighters say it started with the circuit breaker inside the children’s bedroom closet. “This is our stuff, everything. We didn’t rescue nothing,” says 15-year-old Neydy Catalan, pointing to the scorched debris still sitting on the bedroom floor.
All four of the Catalan children shared the small room. In the apartment above them, another family’s four children did the same. “They used to sleep here – three of my cousins and one of my niece,” explains 12-year-old Karime Fuentes.
The families say the lights would often go out to the whole row of apartments. Just one day before the fire, the Catalans complained to management they’d seen sparks coming from a kitchen outlet. The complex claims it fixed the problem and that it was unrelated to the fire.
A manager blamed power outages on apartments housing too many people, using too much electricity.
The Catalans say the afternoon of the fire they were in the kitchen when the lights suddenly turned off again. That’s when the girls’ mother walked to the back of the apartment, where she said she saw flames shooting from their bedroom closet.
Within minutes, it had spread to the upstairs apartment and another next door. “It was scary. I felt scared,” said Fuentes.
Management said it has yet to receive a final investigative report from Dallas Fire Rescue, detailing the cause of the blaze.
The families who lost their homes, though, blame the complex. “If they had done their jobs, this wouldn’t have happened to us,” said Zulia.
The little they had they were proud of. “My dad sacrificed for everything we had,” said Neydy.
Now they want the complex to take responsibility and help pay for what they lost.
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