Family of eight blames landlord after house destroyed by fire

(Amanda Foster | WBTV)
(Amanda Foster | WBTV)

KINGS MOUNTAIN, NC (WBTV) - A family of eight in Kings Mountain is trying to figure out what comes next.

A fire swallowed up their home Wednesday morning and they are blaming the landlord.

"This is not happening to us…this can't be happening to us," Florence Sharpe says, as she and her husband Michael walk through what was her rented home of three years.

"To watch my kids look at what they had and know everything they had is gone," she added.

Once cherished toys are now charred. A home is destroyed by flames and a family dog did not make it out.

"She went to go check on the kids and she never came back down," Sharpe says, choking up.

RELATED STORY: Kings Mountain fire sparks complaints of landlord from other tenants

Michael Sharpe says he turned the family's space heater on around 5:30 a.m. Wednesday and the breaker blew.

"He went outside, flipped it back, went back inside to get ready for work like he does every morning," Florence Sharpe says.

Wednesday morning, when he went back outside, the father noticed half his home was covered in smoke.

"I just had to get them out," he says.

The father did just that. He got his wife and six kids all out safely, but now the family is placing blame on landlord Mike Brown.

"We don't have any working smoke detectors in the house," Michael Sharpe says. "We put nine-volt batteries and check them like you're supposed to and they've never worked."

The family says they have been without heat since December, using kerosene and space heaters on a faulty electrical system. Many of the landlord's other tenants on the block told WBTV the same thing Wednesday.

"Every house on our lane has the same problem. Nobody has heat," Sharpe says.

WBTV spoke with Mike Brown on the phone Wednesday. He says he knew the family didn't have heat, but says his homes are all equipped with working smoke detectors. He offered the family a new place at half the rent, but they declined.

"I would not be comfortable staying in any of his properties," Florence Sharpe says. "I was lucky to wake up this morning."

Bethlehem Fire Department responded to the home Wednesday morning. They tell WBTV they recorded the breaker as the cause of the flames. When asked about smoke detectors, they said they just could not tell because they were all so destroyed by the fire.

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