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‘It took the whole roof off’ – LaPlace family escapes blaze

LAPLACE — Whitney McTopy describes her family as close.

She points to three generations living together in their two-story home at 509 Greenwood Drive in LaPlace as proof.

Recently without a clothes dryer because their new one was on back order, McTopy said they actually celebrated washing and drying clothes together when the new one was installed.

“We finally got it and even told the lady at the laundromat, ‘today is going to be the last day you are going to see us,’” McTopy said.

Things were good Monday morning.

That all changed by Monday evening.

McTopy, a stylist at Incredible Cuts in LaPlace, said she was home cleaning her brother’s room at approximately 3:30 p.m. when she started to smell smoke.

After confirming with her mother it had nothing to do with cooking, she asked her brother, who has autism, to step outside the house.

“Then, at the same time he was running back in to say there is smoke coming from the house, I was screaming at my mom, saying ‘there is smoke coming from the air vent,’” McTopy said.

The family took off fast, running across Greenwood Drive to a house on the other side of the street.

By this time, fire and smoke billowed out the home’s roof and second floor.

The St. John the Baptist Parish Fire Department was alerted to the blaze at 3:42 p.m., responding with three trucks and 12 firefighters.

Firefighters made an interior attack on the fire on the second floor attic, St. John Communications Director Baileigh Rebowe Helm said, adding the blaze was contained to the second floor and attic with smoke and water damage impacting all areas of the structure.

According to the incident report, the fire started somewhere in the attic area but crews were unable to determine the exact location or cause after their investigation.

Entergy was called to remove the electrical meter and Red Cross was notified to provide assistance to the occupants.

Foul play is not suspected.

The fire was reported under control by 4:04 p.m.

McTopy said the blaze was electrical in nature, starting in the attic near where she was cleaning her brother’s room.

“It took the whole roof off,” she said. “The whole house is gone. The structure is still there, but inside all the rooms are damaged. If it is not with fire damage, it is with water damage. The entire ceiling fell through. It is just a mess.”

McTopy said she and her two children lived in the house with her mother, Bridget Ivey, who owns the home, her brother and two sisters. They have been staying with multiple friends and family since the devastation.

“We all made it out,” McTopy said. “In the end, we still thank God and say God is good. That’s who got us out alive. We’re going to build a new home but we cannot replace each other.

“We’ve had such an outreach from the community already. I do hair for a living and so many of our customers, even the neighbors, came together as one to help. It is so overwhelming.”