HARVEY, La. -- Friends and family of a popular children's book author who died Monday in a house fire in Harvey have set up a fundraising account to help with funeral expenses and donate to charity on behalf of Dianne De Las Casas.
De Las Casas was not only the author of several children's books, she was a local storyteller who was known for connecting with her young audiences.
The fire happened at her home in the 2300 block of Hampton Street in Harvey. When deputies arrived, they couldn't get inside because the fire was too intense. De Las Casas was found trapped inside and in critical condition. She was pronounced dead shortly after at a local hospital.
Friends described her as a "dazzling star, a loving mother, a compassionate daughter, a generous friend, a spectacular girlfriend, and everyone's favorite diva."
Her daughter, Eliana de Las Casas, is a teenage chef who won Food Network's Chopped Junior Teen Tournament.
The fundraising page set up for De Las Casas will help with funeral expenses, and anything left over will be donated to First Book, a nonprofit that provides new books, learning materials and other essentials to children in need.