NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans Fire Department says it could be days before investigators know the cause of the fire that torched a historic house on Saint Charles Avenue earlier this week.
The fire started at about 7:45 Wednesday morning at 2525 Saint Charles Avenue. The following morning firefighters were still spraying water on the home.
There are a number of hotspots that continue to burn even though flames are not visible.
“Yesterday we placed the fire under control. But obviously you can see some of the smoke coming up, smoldering still. The problem is access to it. So before we can place this thing ‘out’, we have to get access. We have to make sure it’s safe,” NOFD Superintendent Tim McConnell told WGNO Thursday morning at the fire scene.
The Garden District mansion was gone to two New Orleans families related by marriage. The Montgomery family lived on the first floor and the Grace family on the second and third floors.
McConnell believes the fire started in the basement and spread through hollow walls and other hidden corridors until the flames reached the roof. The blaze went to seven alarms with more than 80 firefighters on scene.
the Louisiana State Fire Marshal and the ATF are assisting in the investigation into the cause of the fire. But the hotspots as well as structural concerns are keeping investigators away from the interior spaces of the home.
“We have to have engineers on the scene there. We’re going to go around and decide how to make this building safe so, one, we can put out the smoldering areas, and two, do our investigation which is ultimately where we are now, trying to find out where the point of origin is and the cause of the fire,” McConnell said, adding that it could be a couple days before the structural assessment can be done.