Police: Children started fire by playing with matches; mom arrested

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wwltv.com

Posted on October 14, 2012 at 8:22 AM

Updated Monday, Oct 15 at 5:57 PM

Katie Moore / Eyewitness News
Email: kmoore@wwltv.com | Twitter: @katiecmoore

NEW ORLEANS -- Six-year-old twin girls are still recovering after a fire damaged their Algiers apartment on Saturday. After rescuing the two girls, firefighters discovered their mother wasn't home.

They charged the mother, 24-year-old Monrovia Brown, with two counts of child neglect.

Neighbors and friends showed their support for the girls with balloons and teddy bears posted outside the door of the apartment in the 3000 block of Americus Street.

They all have a lot of questions about why they girls were left alone and doubts about whether they could've done more to help.

“I'm hearing an alarm up in her house. I’m thinking she up there cookin’. She up there burning something,” said one neighbor who didn’t want to be identified.

But she and others soon noticed the smoke coming from the upstairs apartment and called 911. Firefighters responded quickly, breaking through iron bars and forcing open a steel door to get inside.

“You really couldn't see anything. So, I just started feeling around on the floor in there and that's where she was,” said New Orleans firefighter Earl Munch, who rescued one of the two girls from the burning apartment.

The first was in the bathroom unresponsive. Her twin sister was found unresponsive in a closet.

“I assume once the fire started, little kids get scared, you know, and they probably just went somewhere where the smoke couldn't get them,” Munch said.

“They just came out lifeless and it was just tragic to see,” said another neighbor, Keina Willis.

Firefighters had to do CPR to revive both girls.

The worst part is firefighters discovered their mother wasn't home. She said she had gone to work as a Harrah’s Casino security guard and left them alone.

“That's normal. She just do that all the time. I can hear her. I can hear when the children are home alone. They running around through the house and I know she must not be there,” the unidentified neighbor said. Others confirmed the same situation.

New Orleans Fire Superintendent Charles Parent said the whole situation could've been avoided with a working smoke detector and parental supervision.

“It was kids playing with matches. One of the children admitted that she was playing with fire with incense. She started a blanket on fire. The other child she tried to take the fire and get it out of the apartment. She spread the fire in other words,” Parent said.

Multiple neighbors told us they had raised concerns about the family to state child welfare agencies, but that they didn't think any action had been taken on those reports. Others said they wish they had called to report it.

A spokesperson for the Louisiana Department of Child and Family Services cited privacy concerns and said they couldn’t say whether they had received any reports about the family or whether there were any open investigations involving them.

 

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