Louisiana State Fire Marshal Issues Urgent Fire Safety Alert After 3 Deaths in 3 Separate Fires

By Calcasieu Staff
Published December 06, 2023

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Louisiana – The Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s Office (LASFM) is urging families to stay cautious about fire safety at home following the tragic deaths of three individuals in residential fires over the last two days in our state.

St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana Fire

St. Tammany Fire District #2 promptly responded to an emergency call regarding a residential fire on Hester Street in Madisonville at approximately 6:45 a.m. on Monday, December 4th. A concerned passerby noticed smoke coming from the house and when attempting to alert the inhabitants discovered an individual lying on the floor. Upon arrival, firefighters discovered the deceased man’s body positioned between the kitchen and living room areas of the house.

At the moment, the identity of the victim is not yet confirmed by the parish Coroner’s Office, but it is currently believed to be the 32 year old homeowner.

After evaluating the situation and interviewing eyewitnesses, deputies have concluded that the fire originated in the kitchen and was a result of cooking being left unattended.

Cottonport, Louisiana Fire

Later on the 4th, at approximately 8:30 p.m., the Cottonport Fire Department attended to a fire at an unoccupied house in the 300 block of Cottonport Avenue. Following their arrival, firefighters discovered the deceased body of a male individual within the premises.

The parish Coroner’s Office is still waiting for official identification and information on the cause of death, but they currently think that the victim is a 39-year-old man who was a transient from the local area.

After evaluating the situation and gathering testimonies, deputies have concluded that the fire started in the room where the victim was discovered. Although the exact cause is still unknown, deputies have not dismissed the potential involvement of unsafe heating practices or smoking-related activities as potential factors.

Marksville, Louisiana Fire

At approximately 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, December 5, the Marksville Fire Department was called to the 400 block of Kirby Drive after receiving a report about a fire in a mobile home. Once the firefighters arrived, they discovered the deceased body of a man in the living room area.

The parish Coroner’s Office is currently awaiting official identification and cause of death. However, it is currently believed that the victim is a homeowner who is 61 years old.

After evaluating the area and collecting accounts from witnesses, deputies have concluded that the fire started in the living room where the victim was discovered. Although the precise cause is unknown, deputies have not dismissed the potential involvement of dangerous heating methods, a faulty electrical connection linked to improper extension cord usage, or activities related to smoking as potential factors.

State Fire Marshal Dan Wallis expressed his sadness and concern over the recent deaths of three individuals in home fires, especially coming after a year with remarkably low home fire fatalities in Louisiana. He urged the people of Louisiana to take pride in their fire-awareness efforts in 2023 and to continue prioritizing safety. While thinking of and supporting the affected families, he also emphasized the need for everyone to remain vigilant in protecting themselves and their loved ones from fire hazards.

LASFM recommends following these important cooking safety tips as a common practice.

  • It is important to remain in the kitchen while cooking, especially when the stove is being used.
  • Ensure that cooking areas are clean and free from items that could catch fire.
  • It is advisable to refrain from cooking while in a tired, distracted, or impaired state.

In regard to electrical safety, particularly related to home heating, it is recommended to steer clear of using extension cords for extended periods or in unintended ways, such as connecting multiple cords to create unconventional power sources. This practice can lead to overheating and pose a risk of causing fires. 

Louisiana SFM suggests the following suggestions for safely heating your home:

  • Position space heaters at a distance of 3-5 feet from flammable items such as blankets and curtains.
  • It is advised to connect all heating devices to wall sockets directly instead of using power strips or extension cords.
  • Refrain from using stoves or ovens as a heating source for residences.
  • Avoid putting too much wood in fireplaces or wood-burning stoves and make sure there is adequate ventilation.
  • It is important to never leave candles, open flames, or space heaters unattended.

Only one of these homes had functioning smoke alarms. The LASFM wants to emphasize that having smoke alarms can make a life-saving difference during a fire emergency. If you need help getting smoke alarms for your home, Operation Save-A-Life is available to assist. To find out more about Operation Save-A-Life or to sign up for a free smoke alarm, visit the LASFM website at lasfm.org or reach out to your local fire department to request a free smoke alarm installation.