July 20, 1995 in City

What The Fire Didn’t Get, A Burglar Did Duplex Blaze Was Started By Family’s Pet Iguana

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Less than 24 hours after fire chased Auddan and Nikki Watson and their two sons from the duplex they rented, a burglar snatched 35 compact discs, tools and a telephone answering machine from the residence.

“After everything I have already lost, they have to come and rip me off,” Nikki Watson said Wednesday.

A Spokane County sheriff’s deputy determined the intruder entered the tan and brown duplex through a basement window. Dusty tracks marked a black couch that sat underneath the window.

“The footprints on the couch and the fingerprints on the inside are going to get him,” Nikki Watson said.

The items taken were among the few things not damaged by a fire that ripped through the living room of the duplex at 3226 S. Raymond Circle on Tuesday afternoon.

White outlines from pictures and wall hangings lined the walls of the living and dining rooms freshly covered in black soot.

A television set, compact disc player and stereo speakers were among the valuables deformed by the fire. Video cassettes - though slightly melted - still sat neatly on their shelves.

Scattered among the debris was 1-year-old Casey’s plastic car. Casey got the car as a gift for his birthday three weeks ago.

The car, which used to have a handle on it to help Casey learn to walk, was reduced to a shriveled mess.

Fire investigators, who estimated damages at $30,000, said the family’s pet iguana, Crabby, started the fire. Crabby scaled driftwood and a reflector attached to the side of his cage and knocked the heat lamp off the top.

The bulb broke, igniting wood chips, carpet and driftwood in the bottom of the tank.

Ironically, the iguana survived the fire, despite being covered in melted plastic from his cage. Crabby was so badly injured, however, the Watsons had him put to sleep.

“We were going to save him but after the vet got all of the plastic off his skin, he was so burned they said he was in a lot of pain,” Nikki Watson said.

Dean and Sharon Brown have owned the duplex for close to 17 years and said insurance should cover repairs to the unit. The adjoining unit was not damaged.

The Watsons’ possessions were not insured.

“We didn’t have it last time because we were stupid,” Nikki Watson said. “It was just one of those thing we didn’t have the money to go do.”

Not having renters insurance is a mistake the Watsons will not make twice.

“We have already checked into it,” Auddan Watson said.

Nikki Watson has been able to keep her sense of humor through the ordeal.

“We just scrubbed the house last week,” she joked. “A lot of good that did.”

The Watsons, who were not home when the fire broke out, are living in a motel room the Red Cross provided for three nights until they can figure out what to do. They said they were going to look at a couple of rental houses Wednesday night.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo


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