Former tenant blames shoddy electrical work, landlord for fire that left family homeless

MILLINGTON, Tenn. — A former tenant blamed the homeowner for shoddy electrical work leading to a fire that left a family of four homeless Wednesday.

The landlord denied the allegations and said she made efforts to fix the home on Highway 51.

Jacob Pogue said he and his wife lived in the North Shelby County home from 2015 to 2017.

They were homeless before moving in, so they ignored some of the necessary repairs at first, Pogue said. But when they gave birth to a baby girl, they started taking issues more seriously.

“Only three plugs worked in the whole house," Pogue said. "That’s difficult. We had extension cords: one going into the kitchen, one into the baby’s room."

Landlord Billie Densford confirmed the home does not have central heating or air.

Pogue said they often had to overload the electrical system to run heaters in the winter.

He said one time, a spark caused a curtain to catch fire. He showed a photo of where it left a mark on the wall.

“Anytime we told her about anything there was no response or she’d say she was gonna fix it or she’d say, 'I’m not putting any more money into this house,'” he said of his former landlord.

The Pogues said they got a letter in late 2017 asking them to leave within 30 days. He said the property manager told him they planned to make improvements before a new tenant moved in.

Then, Pogue saw the news that his former home burned down Wednesday, leaving a family of four homeless two weeks before Christmas.

Shelby County Fire officials said Thursday a space heater caused the fire.

WREG went to Densford’s home to find out if she had any comment.

At first, she said the home was safe, denied knowing about any issues and closed the door.

But an hour later she called and defended her actions. She said she made a lot of updates when the house was in-between tenants.

“We did the hardwood floors, re-did the varnish, fixed all the sockets and different things before we rented to these people," she said.

The Pogues said they still regret they didn't report their former landlord. They said they feared they'd get kicked out.

“I wished I would’ve said something or done something more," Pogue said. “I just hate their house burned like that. They lost everything.”

The family displaced in the fire is currently living in a motel and waiting to get help from the Red Cross. If you want to help, call 901-212-0220.