Apartment fire displaces Reserve families

Published 12:13 am Saturday, January 27, 2018

RESERVE — Four adults and seven children are displaced from their homes following a fire that engulfed the upstairs bedroom of one apartment unit and left smoke damage in three other units at 432 NW Third St. in Reserve.

Unit C tenant Danielle Smith was watching TV with her children Wednesday afternoon when she noticed smoke coming from upstairs.

As the fire grew and smoke spilled from the south facing second story window, Smith alerted her neighbors.

Some of the long-term residents felt a sense of déjà vu.

On Jan. 6, 2017, before the Smith family moved in, an almost identical fire sparked from the same bedroom in Unit C, spread smoke damage to neighbors and displaced tenants.

Unit B tenant Erica Tuco and her 7-year-old daughter lost clothing and belongings to smoke last year and were not able to move back into the apartment until May.

Tuco said there has been speculation that faulty electrical wiring caused both fires, though nothing is confirmed.

Cain Dufrene, chief of operations for the St. John Parish Office of Fire Services, said the fire’s cause is marked as undetermined. The landlord of the complex was shocked to hear the fire occurred the same way as last year, Dufrene said.

“Without knowing what caused it, it’s difficult to warn people how to prevent it from happening,” Dufrene said.

Fourteen firefighters from Fire Services were dispatched at 3:51 p.m. and arrived on scene four minutes later.

All residents were outside the building and unharmed at the time of arrival.

No injuries were sustained.

The response team made an interior attack on the fire, extinguishing flames and hot spots with a fire hose before ventilating smoke from the area, according to Dufrene.

The fire was under control by 4:11 p.m., and the area was cleared at 6:08 p.m.

Dufrene said fire damage was contained to the Unit C bedroom, though significant smoke and water damage claimed other rooms in the home. The remaining units sustained only smoke damage.

Fire Services contacted Red Cross to assist the occupants of the four units.

Red Cross provided each family with an overnight stay at the Quality Inn in LaPlace and funds for food and clothing.

Unit A resident Dylan Johnson works at Winn Dixie in Destrehan and is making arrangements with the store to replace food items.

Smith said her biggest concern moving forward is finding a place to live.

Her family is in need of clothing donations, including 2XL men’s shirts, size 40 waist men’s pants, XL and 2XL women’s shirts, size 18 women’s pants, medium boy’s and girl’s shirts, size 5 boy’s and girl’s pants and 5T boy’s clothing.

“It’s such a tragedy,” Smith said. “We’ll need whatever can be given, and we appreciate all of the help.”

Donations can be dropped off at 1200 Cinclair Loop in LaPlace.

Smith can be reached at 504-408-3134.

Tuco said her landlord checked up on residents to make sure they are safe and told her she should be able to move back into her apartment within a month.

“We couldn’t save the stuff [from last year’s fire], and it looks like we will have to replace everything again,” Tuco said, adding her bedroom, living room and kitchen are once again singed with smoke.

Tuco and her daughter’s clothing sizes are as follows: Women’s shirts 2XL, size 22 pants, shoe size 10; girl’s size 7/8 shirts and pants and size 1 to 1 ½ shoes.

For more information, contact Tuco at 985-212-5044.

Johnson, his mother, Tiffany, and brother, Galen sustained similar damage in their Unit A apartment and are also displaced.

Their clothing sizes are as follows: Men’s medium and XL shirts, pants size 30-28 and 34-34, size medium underwear and shoe sizes 10 to 10.5; women’s size large shirts, size 6 pants, size 6 bikini cut underwear and size 11 to 11.5 shoes.

For more information, contact Tiffany at 985-210-1887 or Dylan at 985-210-0079.