METAIRIE, La. (WGNO) – Investigators say the fire that killed three people and injured a fourth was intentionally set.
Flames engulfed a second-story apartment in Metairie early Tuesday morning.
WGNO News Reporter Darian Trotter spoke to neighbors who knew the victims; and he has the latest on the investigation.
By the time investigators and first responders arrived, the nightmare on Harvard Avenue had already taken its toll.
Three people perished in the apartment fire — two men and one woman.
“Well I was very good friends with all three of them, you know,” Kelly Matthew said. “And it’s just devastating the way it went down.”
Four apartments were destroyed in the early morning blaze. It was a relentless fire that displaced
dozens of people from two separate apartment buildings.
Ashley Hidalgo saw the commotion on the way to daycare.
“It was just all smoky. “They had the streets blocked off and a ton of people out front and we could smell it from inside the car,” she said.
Fire investigators suspected early on that an accelerant was used to start the blaze.
They also identified someone they wanted to question.
“A lot of things are going on right now behind the scenes,” said State Fire Marshall Butch Browning. “Many people are being interviewed by the sheriff’s office. “Many people are giving valuable information as to the cause.”
Investigators believe the fire was intentionally set in the stairway, leading to the apartment where the occupants died.
The fourth victim who survived told authorities the flames were blocking the only exit.
The 44-year old man said they all gathered in a back bedroom, and had planned to jump from a second-floor window.
He’s the only one who managed to escape. He suffered a leg injury from the 15-foot drop.
“Yeah, they said he broke his ankle from what i understand, when he jumped out the window back there,” Matthew said.
Investigators are awaiting the results of laboratory testing to confirm an accelerant was used to start the fire.
No one had been charged in the suspected arson late Tuesday night.