ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH, La. — It was in the kitchen area, where investigators with the state fire marshal’s office believe the fire started at a Mt. Airy home last week.
“If there’s a way to prevent this and usually there is, we want to make sure everyone else knows so that doesn’t happen to them as well,” said State Fire Marshal’s Office Public Affairs Director Ashley Rodrigue.
Investigators believe wiring to a stove caused an electrical issue early Wednesday morning. Flames spread quickly, creating a fire so intense, firefighters couldn’t get inside at first.
“The guys got here, saw heavy flames throughout the whole structure, quickly knocked down the fire, keep the fire from spreading from any further than what it was,” said St. John Parish Fire Chief Cain Dufrene.
That structure is what family members say was a guest house, connected to the main home on Marigold Street. Inside were Quintella Chopin, 38, and her two children, J’irmani Edwards, 7, and Therrill Edwards Jr., 2.
“This is tragic. We hate to go to fires where you have a loss of life, especially when there’s a loss of life where there’s children,” said Dufrene.
Investigators wonder whether loss of life could have been prevented because there were no smoke alarms found in the home. While it’s not certain they would have made a difference, Rodrigue says they’re too important not to have.
“We can prepare as best as we can to be fire safe, but at the end of the day, things happen, and smoke alarms can help alert us when things are happening to get us out safely,” said Rodrigue.
The children’s aunt, who was sleeping in the main home, says she was woken that morning by a stranger on his way to work.
“He was ringing the doorbells knocking on the door frantically trying to alert us that the house was on fire and that’s when I came outside,” said Edwards.
That’s when she saw the guest house, above the garage, engulfed in flames.
“To hear this happening is certainly devastating,” said Rodrigue.
It’s a devastating reality that investigators hope people will pay attention to, so it doesn’t happen again.
If you need smoke alarms for your home or need them installed, check out Operation “Save-A-Life” from the state fire marshal’s office.