Fire Reveals Larger Problem In City *HOLD TIL AIRDATE*

"We all ran through here out the door 'cause I have no idea where it was at," Wendy Barrett, a Van mobile homeowner, said.

On August 8, a fire woke her, her husband, and their 2-year-old son. They moved into the mobile home in July. They're buying it from Ernie Burns, who has been selling dozens of trailers in a park in Van.

The fire is the second fire in the park this summer, and the city fire marshal says it's a problem that needs to be solved.

"There's a main line, electrical line, running down the ceiling that shorted and caught fire," Terry Blackmon said.

Blackmon says the fire started because of an existing problem before the Barretts even moved in.

"The repairs were made," Blackmon said. "The only thing that was not done was the re-inspection."

"But who was doing, who's the re-inspector?" Burns asked Blackmon. "You didn't even tell me I needed an inspection. I go to the city and ask for an inspector. They don't have an inspector."

As it turns out, the fire marshal says his hands are tied because he doesn't have the power to enforce safety codes. And he says the city tells him it's a civil matter.

"Most of the residents over there don't have the money to carry this matter to civil court," Blackmon said. "So I'm just trying to get a fix to them on what we can do."

"The only way you can have any power like that is to have ordinances that's within the purview of the city," Mayor Hut Raulston said. "We do not have an electrical requirement on inspections."

So what this situation boils down to is citizens who want a safe place to live, but in a city that cannot guarantee it, when it comes to faulty electrical wiring.

The City of Van says it does plan to propose an ordinance that would help with situations like this one. When there is faulty wiring, the ordinance would require an electrical inspection before electricity could be turned back on.

As far as the Barretts are concerned, they called an electrician on their own, and their home has been inspected.

Julie Tam, reporting.