NEW ORLEANS -- The one-story brick home at the corner of 39th street and Connecticut Avenue was left a charred ruin, and the smell of smoke filled the air.
Neighbors, some of whom tried to rescue the family members trapped inside, were horrified at the tragedy.
"My neighbors saw the flames about 3 a.m. in the morning,” said neighbor Elaine Liebel. “I slept through it, but it's horrible."
Kenner firefighters say they were on the scene within three minutes of receiving the alarm just after 3 a.m. They found flames roaring through the roof and front door. They discovered the five family members tried to escape through a front window. The father, mother, and two sons got out, only to discover the 5-year-old girl was still inside.
"The adult female realized that there was one child still missing,” said Kenner Fire Chief John Hellmers. “She re-entered the house, found the child, but then became trapped with that child. When our guys arrived on the scene, they immediately extricated them from the house.”
They were rushed to the hospital, but could not be saved. Armando Posadas owns the house, and rushed to the scene, horrified to find a real-life nightmare involving tenants he helped move in just a year ago.
"Really wonderful people. Really wonderful people,” he said. “I visit them every once a month or twice a month. They are really wonderful people."
When Kenner firefighters saw how much damage was done to the roof, they wondered how long the blaze has been burning before they got the alarm. And when they got here the fire was so hot that when one firefighter tried to bring a hose in through here, there was a flashover, a wall of flame exploded out, and washed over him.
"That fireman, his face piece on his helmet is melted. It's no longer usable. His face piece on his breathing apparatus, it bulged out and melted,” Hellmers said.
Neighbors who tried to rescue the family said they did not hear any alarms going off inside the house before firefighters arrived.
"The tragic thing is that we're not seeing any indication of any smoke detectors,” Hellmers said.
Kenner police and firefighters are working together with the state fire marshal’s office to determine the cause of the fire.