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Punta Gorda family without water, home after fire

Posted at 10:52 PM, Dec 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-23 22:52:03-05

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. — Charred. Twisted. And burnt.

"If we'd have been asleep, it would have been over with," said Jessica Umphries.

That's the best way to describe the aftermath of a late Sunday night fire, at Umphries Punta Gorda home on Pineapple road.

Water was dripping down into something called the pump mixer," said Umphries.

That dripping caused her family's water heater to catch fire.

Thankfully they were awake when it happened and called for help.

"The fire was so hot on the outside of the house that it melted the blinds on the inside of the house," said Umphries.

The family says they've spent Christmas Eve "eve" without running water and only recently had their power turned back on.

But there's still concern about the wiring in the home, after Sunday's blaze.

"I'm afraid to turn on any lights in the house..." said Umphries.

According to Umphries and her husband, their landlord hasn't sent someone out to inspect the property and the water heater likely won't be fixed until after the holidays.

In the meantime, they're counting their blessings and staying elsewhere, thanks to help from the red cross.

"Christmas in a hotel?" said Umphries.

"Yeah. Yeah," said Umphries' husband Clifford Heskett.

"And a new place to live," said Umphries.

Fox 4 Reporter, Rochelle Alleyne reached out to the man who identified himself as their landlord.

He refused to speak with her on camera, but said he was working to get the water heater fixed.