Former tenant speaks out on fire that killed Sarah Brucker
DELAFIELD (WITI) -- A recently released report on the death of Sarah Brucker is shedding light on the Town of Delafield house fire that killed the popular Milwaukee-area makeup artist in August 2013.
The Waukesha County District Attorney tells FOX6 there is no evidence of a crime being committed in this case, and the cause of the fire is undetermined. But now, a former tenant of the building is speaking out, saying she believes the whole situation could have been prevented.
"It was a neat, neat old building. It was charming. But it was also somebody's death trap," said Robin Engelbrecht. "This was just a fire waiting to happen -- and it scared me to death."
Engelbrecht lived in the three-unit apartment complex that caught fire for about six months in 2011 -- a year and a half before Brucker moved in. It didn't take Engelbrecht long to notice several potential safety hazards.
"The wires in the dining room were very, very old -- probably the original," said Engelbrecht. "The paint was just falling off. Inside was just dry, gray wood. There were nights there would be a lightning storm and I'd go sleep in my car. I was afraid if there were any kind of spark, it would go up like that."
The morning after the August 7th blaze, Engelbrecht returned to her former home to give a police statement where she informed officials about the crawl space under the porch.
"That's where the lawnmower was stored, full of gasoline -- and two gallons of gasoline," said Engelbrecht.
According to documents released by the Waukesha County Sheriff's Department, witnesses reported hearing an explosion and seeing blue flames shooting out from the front porch. The flames were so intense, neighbors across the street reported feeling the heat in their yards.
Investigators believe the fire started on the first floor of the residence. A canine unit found no trace of ignitable liquids at the scene.
Brucker's body was found in her upstairs apartment.
"All of the upstairs windows were painted shut. I couldn't open any of the upstairs windows. Any of them," said Engelbrecht. "And that's what I kept picturing in my mind -- her, trying to get out and she couldn't"
While she was a tenant, Engelbrecht said she reported her concerns to the fire department. She claims the property owner initially moved the items under the porch, but returned them two weeks later.
FOX6 reached out to the property owner who said there was nothing stored underneath the porch at the time of the fire.