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Colorado couple loses home in suspected arson, caused by fireworks

Westminster couple loses home in suspected arson, caused by fireworks
Westminster couple loses home in suspected arson, caused by fireworks 02:12

It's been four days since Westminster resident Anthony Fox says his life has changed drastically.

"We counted a lot of blessings that day, counted a lot of blessings," said Fox.

Fox and his fiancé Nicole Betz were hiking with their dog in Estes Park on the 4th of July when they got an unexpected call.

Anthony Fox, Nicole Betz and their dog  Courtesy

"All we could hear was... 'Westminster department, fire, house is on fire,'" said Fox. "It was about three hours after the fire started by the time we got back and saw what had happened."

When they got back, they saw what was left of a fire that started on the side of their home.

"We have roof and wall sections collapsing," said Fox. "No front door or door frame because (the fire department) had to kick that through to look for survivors."  

Fox says the flames were caused by their neighbor who was setting off fireworks in between both of their homes.

"He could've killed us he could've killed our pets and ruined our home because of some reckless kid," said Fox.

Anthony Fox and Nicole Betz CBS

The couple says they almost lost their cat Apollo who was trapped inside the home when the fire started. However, one sheriff's deputy was able to get him out.

"Now we are out of a home but at least we have our family which is what is important," said Fox.

Westminster police shared a mug shot of Gabriel Etsby Ocean, Fox's neighbor, who was arrested at the scene and charged with first-degree arson of a building. He was later released.

Gabriel Etsby Ocean   Westminster Police Department

"This gentleman is charged with arson and is at home sleeping in his bed while we're trying to gather remnants of our home that he destroyed, [and] sleeping out of a hotel room," said Fox.

The couple is now crowdfunding to help get them into a new home soon. They have also made attempts to get their neighbor to take accountability for the fire, but say that has not been successful.

While they wait for the fire department to continue their investigation, they hope this tragedy can be a reminder for others to hold themselves accountable for preventing fires.

"Don't be negligent. Be responsible. You want to have fun do it in a safe way that you know what you are doing," said Fox. "Like seriously, if you don't know how to control a fire, don't start one. You could cost someone their home and potentially cost someone their life."

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