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Community rallies around fire chief whose wife is presumed dead in house fire

ST. TAMMANY- The State Fire Marshal's Office says it's still working to determine what caused a deadly fire in Lacombe Friday.

And while the St. Tammany Coroner's Office is waiting on DNA tests to confirm the identity of the woman found in the home, family and friends say it is the well-known wife of a parish fire chief.

Sharing messages of love for Nanette Krentel has been a source of comfort for many in the past few days.

One post on her Facebook page reads, "Nanette was truly a wonderful person. Always selfless and beautiful, inside and out."

Another says, "I just talked to you. You are truly one of the sweetest souls I've ever met. My heart is broken."

"Nan was, and I think everyone would say this, she was just a genuinely kind, compassionate, sincere person," said friend Erica Boogaerts.

Krentel, a preschool teacher and wife of St. Tammany District 12 Fire Chief Steve Krentel, is presumed to have died in a fire at their home while Steve was at work.

"We've been devastated by a really tragic loss that involved one of our extended family members," said STFD #12 Chief of Fire Prevention Kris Hines. "It's not something that we're used to. We're used to the other side."

But the community is embracing the Krentel family and the fire family surrounding them.

"It's overwhelming. We've gotten calls, we've gotten texts, we've gotten Facebook posts," Hines said. "It makes you feel good knowing the people who you're out there to protect and serve are kind of looking out for you at the same time."

Another way is through a fundraiser for Steve Krentel's eventual recovery, kicked off by Boogaerts, a close friend of the Krentel's and also a District 12 fire wife.

"I knew immediately he would need sheets, towels, clothing," she said, "All of his personal care items; things he's not thinking about right now. I really didn't want him to think about anything."

She says there's no doubt the community as a whole will feel the same.

"I know this community is going to provide just an outpouring of love and support and I think that's what he needs right now," Boogaerts said.

Donations can be dropped off to the district headquarters on the corner of Highways 21 and 36 in unincorporated Covington.

A PayPal account has also been set up for online donations to be sent to Steve. The email address for the PayPal account is ebooga1@gmail.com. All donations sent through PayPal are asked to be sent as "friends and family" payments. A YouCaring account has also been started: https://www.youcaring.com/stevekrentel-880683

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