Monday marked the beginning of Fire Prevention Week. New Orleans firefighters are reminding people to replace smoke detectors every 10 years and make sure those are also working properly.
The NOFD says it's all about fire prevention, but that's almost impossible in blighted homes. The abandoned homes and buildings throughout New Orleans are not just an eyesore, but are creating a fire hazard.
During fire prevention week, New Orleans firefighters say it's all about having working smoke detectors.
"I've never experienced a fatality where they had a working fire alarm,” New Orleans Fire Department Captain Edwin Holmes said.
The NOFD says it's the key to getting out of a house fire safely. But a smoke detector won’t help you if the blighted house next door goes up in flames. That’s what happened to Broadmoor resident Freddie Seals. An abandoned home on Rocheblave caught fire, which quickly spread to the occupied homes on the street.
"It was a sad thing, a lot of people lost their homes,” Seals said.
Temporarily, he was one of those people.
"We couldn't live in our house for a good month,” Seals said.
He and his family were forced to move from place to place, waiting until it was safe to return home.
"I have an 8-year-old son,” Seals said. “I can't be in and out of hotels and stuff like that."
He's finally back at home, but the damage is extensive.
"See we have all our stuff from the roof, our bed, all my son’s clothes, my wife’s clothes, my clothes,” Seals said. "Maybe $5,000 worth of stuff."
All because a fire in an abandoned home started without anyone around to notice it until it was too late.
"It is always a risk when people aren't doing their duty, taking care of their property,” Captain Holmes said.
With so many properties going unclaimed, all neighbors can do is wait for the city to take the homes down.
"They need to tear them down or fix them up so other people can stay in them,” Seals said.
Constructions workers on the scene of that blighted house fire today say they're cleaning up the mess while they wait on a permit from the city to level the house for good.