Dalewood family left homeless - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Dalewood family left homeless, says fire could have been prevented

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)- We continue to learn new details on a fire that destroyed a Dalewood family's home.

The Smith family lost most of their belongings Tuesday. There was a ray of light after the flames died down. Firefighters found their five puppies hiding under the bed.

While that is good news, the Smiths are in a real jam because a month before the fire, a tree fell on their home, bringing down a live wire. They say EPB refused to shut off the power until the tree was gone.

Insurance adjusters took a look at the damage Saturday. It is clear that pretty much everything they own is destroyed.

"I'm just trying to get my head to stop hurting right now, because I've had a headache since Tuesday," says Tammy Smith.

Smith laughs now only because she says she can not cry anymore.

"I've cried and cried and cried," she says. "So I'm better today."

But that was not the case Tuesday when she got a call her house was on fire. As soon as she saw her home, she knew the tree on her roof was to blame. About a month before, it fell onto a live wire.

"I called EPB and told them I had a tree to go down last night and it fell on one of your lines," says Smith.

She says she was told they could not do anything.

"All I needed them to do was just come and cut the line, but they said when I removed the tree they would come out," Smith says.

So she contacted her insurance company, but the help came too late.

"We got a call from the insurance people saying, 'your check is on the way.' And we got the check yesterday," says Smith.

An EPB spokesperson tells Channel 3 they have no record of the Smiths' call.

Smith says they would not have a record because they never asked for her information. But the spokesperson says it is EPB's policy to cut off service until downed trees are cleared, before starting repairs.

Regardless, Smith now holds a fire report estimating the damage to be around $45,000.

"It's, it's still very difficult," says Tammy's husband, Charlie.

He says he is doing his best to keep a positive attitude even though their insurance adjuster told them, most likely, everything is a loss.

"He was saying that basically the smell will still be in most of the things. Even electronics," he says.

"I felt like they should have at least checked and cut that wire. If that wire had been cut this would not have taken place," says Smith.

The fire department says they have not released an official cause, but it does appear to be electrical in nature.

The Smith's insurance company values their loss at $70,000 and says it could take up to three months to rebuild the inside of their home.

The family says they do not know if they are going to seek legal action against EPB.

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