SAREPTA, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – State Fire Marshal deputies have determined the cause of a fire that took the life of a child in the town of Sarepta on Monday morning.
According to a statement released by the SFM’s office, the Sarepta Fire Department responded to a 1:30 a.m. report of a fire in the 700 block of Church Street on Jan. 30 where they arrived to find a mobile home on fire. Two adults and two toddlers were able to escape and were treated for minor smoke inhalation, but an 8-year-old boy was unable to be rescued from the burning home.
SFM deputies learned, upon investigation, the family was asleep when the two adults awoke to the scent of smoke inside the home. They were able to escape with the two toddlers that were on their side of the mobile home, but they could not reach the 8-year-old who was sleeping on the other side.
After assessing the scene and collecting statements from witnesses, deputies determined the fire began in the bedroom where the victim was sleeping and was caused by a space heater left running too close to bedding.
“This is the second space heater-related fire death from the past few days, and both losses of life are of vulnerable individuals,” said State Fire Marshal Dan Wallis.
Deputies were not able to confirm the presence of working smoke alarms, which are proven to be the difference between life and death in a fire emergency.
Wallis also expressed the importance of educating the public about safe home heating practices and why it’s important to follow safe home heating tips.
Safe home heating tips from the Office of the Louisiana State Fire Marshal:
– Place space heaters 3-5 feet from combustible objects like blankets and curtains
– Plug all heating appliances directly into wall outlets, not power strips or extension cords
– Do not use stoves, ovens, or grills to heat homes
– Don’t overfill fireplaces/wood-burning stoves
– Do not leave candles/open flames (or space heaters) left unattended
The State Fire Marshal’s Operation Save-A-Life partners with local fire departments to install smoke alarms for FREE for families that need them most. Visit lasfm.org or contact your local fire department to request a FREE smoke alarm installation.