7th Ward house fire under control, but it’s suspicious

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – The New Orleans Fire Department is investigating a suspicious fire which badly burned an abandoned home on North Derbigny Street and Lapeyrouse Street Monday morning.

The two-alarm fire broke out around 8:15 a.m.

New Orleans Fire Chief Timothy McConnell says the fire is suspicious, pointing to the fact that no utilities were going to the building. He told WGNO, investigators are on the way.

“Once again an abandoned house that doesn't have utilities to it. It makes us suspicious of what might be going on," McConnell said.

He also added that the flames were so intense when his men first arrived they couldn’t get inside.

The house was owned by Strategic Infield Development LLC, a company that receives tax credits, rehabilitating old properties into affordable housing.

Their spokesman Nick Bruno came to the scene. He says the house was under renovation, and it had been moved from 1466 Rocheblave last summer. The Joan Mitchell Center donated the house.

Bruno said the house been boarded up and secured.

Neighbors told WGNO they saw a suspicious man wearing a black ski mask walking a brown pit bull in an alley by the home before the fire started.

One of the neighbors confronted the man and demanded he takes off his mask. Which he did before walking away.

Soon after, the fire started.

Marquel Reed, who lives next door, told WGNO what she saw.

"I was scared. I saw the house on fire, and I thought it would get on our house, but it got on that house right there, and it was all on fire. And there was smoke all on up in the sky!"

Chief McConnell says several other structures were damaged.

No injuries were reported.

The investigation is ongoing.

N Derbigny St & Lapeyrouse St, New Orleans