My circa 1810 apartment in NH almost burned down while I lived there in college. It had been divided by a wannabe handyman (my landlord was an idiot) into a store and two apartments. Neat place, but a wiring disaster. During the winter my roommate tried to run an electric space heater at the same time as a hair dryer and the other roommate noticed a weird burning smell in the her room where the breaker was. We turned everything off and called the fire department who had an electrician look at the wiring. Some idiot had installed a circuit breaker panel without removing the metal cut-outs over one of the switches so it was stuck on and couldn't trip. The smell was the wires in the wall burning.
Landlord got cited an the wiring was repaired on an emergency basis which was probably more expensive than doing it right the first time.