By Gitzel Puente. CREATED Nov 12, 2013
PALM SPRINGS - A blue tarp covering a burned roof separates a house on Hastings Street in Palm Desert from the rest of the houses on the block.
A family of four once called it home, now some residents living in the area are calling it an eyesore.
"It's just unfortunate because I'm there every day, not all day, but for a period of time I do a little bit of work at a time. If anybody had any questions, well my close neighbors they stop over and say how's it going?" says Roger Tuck, owner of the burned house.
He recalls that frightful moment in August of last year when an electrical device caught fire inside his garage.
"About two o'clock in the morning my dog woke me up in a panic. As soon as I woke up, I heard the snap and crackling of a fire. Two-thirds of the house was completely destroyed," expresses Tuck, thankful that his wife and two children weren't home at the time of the fire.
Now, the Tucks live in an RV miles away from their house. Tuck estimates the property damage from the fire to be more than $200 thousand.
"The difficult part of the process is the time that it takes to prove your loss, it's just incredible. It took us about three months to go through the debris and trying to get pictures and identify everything which is our obligation to the insurance company," explains Tuck.
He adds that he still makes the mortgage payments on their house even though his family can't live in it. It's depleted their life savings, and they still had one more hurdle to overcome: receiving permits from the City of Palm Desert to start rebuilding their home.
"That community was built when it was county, and it was annexed by Palm Desert. Well, the plans for the houses didn't transfer, a lot of them, and ours was one of them," says Tuck.
So with help from his insurance company, he hired contractors and architects to have plans drawn up of his house. Just two weeks ago, the City's Building and Safety Department approved the house plans so they can begin rebuilding. Now, Roger has three months to show progress with the reconstruction.
"You know we will have a nice, new house when this is done, but the process is very difficult," says Tuck.
The City of Palm Desert fined Tuck in September for the property being a "public nuisance." That citation still hasn't been paid. The City says it understand and sympathizes with the homeowner's circumstances as well as the residents having to look at the burned home.