Fire destroys LaPlace public housing

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 25, 2008


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – It was a late night for firefighters from LaPlace, Reserve and Norco Wednesday as they worked to extinguish a fire in the LaPlace Oaks public housing complex.

Smoke and flames, which flared up around 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, engulfed a fourplex of apartments in the 200 block of Joe Parquet Circle. Everyone inside was able to vacate the building without injury, neighbors and witnesses said, but the fire rendered the building completely uninhabitable.

LaPlace Volunteer Fire Department Chief John Snyder said a cause has yet to be determined, but it is believed that the blaze started on the building’s roof. His department has called in the state fire marshal to help investigate the incident.

Snyder said the LaPlace crew was first to respond to the fire, but the size and ferocity of the flames required some extra support from Reserve and Norco Fire Departments.

According to Snyder, a Norco firefighter working the fire from the second floor of the building was transported to River Parishes Hospital to be treated for chest pains. The firefighter was seen by medical staff and released the same day.

Snyder said it took 34 firemen almost three hours to initially extinguish the blaze. Crews had to return to the building around 3:40 a.m. to put out a smaller fire on one of the walls.

The fire displaced four families, whose apartments experienced extensive damage from smoke, water and flames. Officials from the LaPlace Housing authority said the local Red Cross helped put the residents into hotel rooms until the families could acquire new leases. The four families, who were not able to retrieve much from their homes, were very close and will now most probably be separated.  

“I lost everything,” said Tameka Robinson who lived in one of the upstairs apartment. “I can’t even go up there to salvage anything because the floor gave way when the ceiling collapsed.”

Naquicha Anderson, another resident of the building, said her four children were home in the apartment at the time of the blaze.

“It was very frightening,” said Anderson. “There was nothing I could save. I don’t even have a change of clothes to take a bath in.”

Other residents included Karen Lee, who lived in a unit with two babies and two other adults, and Annette Collar, who has seven kids.

The residents believed that the fire was the result of faulty wiring in the attic, but Snyder did not want to speculate on a cause until the fire marshal investigated.