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Altus woman blames city for house burning

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ALTUS, Okla._An Altus woman describes her home as a total loss from a fire almost a month ago and she's blaming the city. Ethel High says her breaker box went out while she was inside her house, when she went outside to check it she noticed her electric meter was spinning very fast and that's when she called the city for help. Ethel High called the city electric department to come out and look at her meter. She says someone came out and replaced her meter and that's when she says things went south.

"They snatched the meter off and said have a good day. I left and went down the street to the 1200 block of Willard to get an electrician to come back but he wasn't home, so I came back and smoke was coming out of the front of the vent," said Ethel High.

That's when she called 911 to come put out the fire but she says the fire could have been prevented if the city workers would have turned off the power to her home.

"I told the one that I had smelled smoke at first when he first came and when they put the new meter on they didn't even acknowledge it or anything, they just blew me off," said High.

But Altus Fire Marshal, Kyle Davis says after doing an investigation he came up with a different cause for the fire.

"With the use of space heaters in conjunction with improper wiring of the house caused an attic fire which caused a fire in the house," said Kyle Davis.

Davis says her house had an outdated electrical system that wasn't built to power all of today's modern appliances, including space heaters. While most houses have a circuit breaker for each room, High's house only had four for the entire house making it easy to overload them.

"I'm not saying she was using the space heater improperly...space heaters use a lot of amperage, the breaker she had in was not   conducive to the size of wiring that was hooked to that breaker," said Davis.

In spite of the fire marshal's ruling, high still feels if the city worker had only investigated further when she called them out, the fire could have been prevented.

"I'm thinking about getting me a lawyer because I feel like if they had listened to me like I had asked them to do and shut it off, it probably wouldn't...it would've been a little bad just in one spot in the back bedroom," said High.

High has filed a suit with the city over the fire, so the city of Altus' insurance company will do an investigation to figure out the cause. High did not have insurance on her house but she said she has begun to remodel the inside, which was a total loss from the fire.

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