WAUSAU, WI (WSAU) – Victims of a deadly fire in the town of Day have been identified.
Sheriff’s officials announced Thursday that Tanya Rodriguez, 44, and James Carolfi, 52, were electrocuted while working on a fractal wood burning project in the garage.
Deputy Chief Chad Billeb says evidence shows the pair were working on the craft project which involves soaking a piece of wood in certain chemicals and then using an electric current to carve a design into the wood. “It’s a very dangerous process. You disassemble a microwave oven and remove the power supply, run it through jumper cables to the studs that are in the board.
“We have evidence that supports that they were using these tools when they died and that these tools caused the fire,” Billeb added.
The art form has become popular in certain circles on social media sites like TikTok and YouTube. But given the dangerous process involved, officers say it should only be carried out by trained professionals who have the proper protective equipment. “No one should do this unless they have the proper equipment and training to do it. Following the advice of YouTube or any other social media site for making a craft is not safe when dealing with electricity.
State pathologists add that the process has also caused deaths in other areas of the state.
“It is a danger. People have died in our local community and in other parts of the state. We want people to stop doing that,” Billeb added.
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Due to the nature of the fire, they were only able to positively identify the victims this week. Friends and family were notified on Wednesday ahead of Thursday’s press conference.
Officers add that the investigation remains active but they have enough information to positively determine the cause of death and the cause of the fire. Foul play has now been ruled out and the incident has been classified as an accident.