No working smoke alarms in fire that killed father & son in Metairie

A father and son both died following a fire overnight in Metairie. But could they have escaped if their apartment had working smoke detectors? That's the question investigators and neighbors are asking.

METAIRIE -- A father and son both died following a fire overnight in Metairie, but could they have escaped if their apartment had working smoke detectors?  That's the question investigators and neighbors are asking. 

"They had about 10 fire trucks out here and my son woke up and he was crying," Bret Mattingly said.

Mattingly and his son live just across the street from the fire on Orion Avenue. Mattingly didn't know the two who died that well, 82-year-old Lisle House, and his 56-year-old son Timothy House, but was close enough to feel their loss.

"Sad, especially for the families, losing two people right before the Christmas," he said.

Jefferson Parish firefighters say the fire started around 3 o' clock Thursday morning.  

When crews arrived, they found a lower unit fully engulfed, and that's where neighbors say the father and son lived.  

"Nothing at this point indicates a suspicious fire, however until we've done all the points of this fire, including the coroner's report, we're not really going to be able to come up with a conclusion," State Fire Marshal Butch Browning said.

Browning's office is now investigating.

"But one of the questions about smoke alarms, we don't believe there were working smoking alarms in this unit, and we didn't find working smoking alarms in the other three units," Brown said.

The two victims died due to smoke inhalation according to the Jefferson Parish Coroner's office.  It's possible a working alarm could have saved them.

Across the street, Mattingly is curious about his own alarm.

"It's not doing anything right now, I think it needs batteries," he said.

But it's not always the tenant's job to check the alarms.

"According to the State Fire Marshall's Office, anytime an apartment complex has three units or more it's considered a commercial property, and therefore the owner is responsible for the smoke detectors," Browning said. "If you go to bed at night and you're not assured that you have a working smoke alarm in your home, you should not go to bed."

© 2017 WWL-TV


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