UPDATE: Body found in burn pile 67-year-old neighbor

Published 8:07 am Wednesday, March 30, 2022

By Doris Maricle

American Press

A body found in a burn pile last week in Topsy is believed to be the 67-year-old female neighbor, according to authorities.

Ashley Rodrigue, public affairs director for the State Fire Marshal’s Office, released updated information Tuesday on the investigation into the death.

The body was discovered Thursday in a burn pile by the fire chief of Jeff Davis Parish Fire District 7 who was helping a resident put out a brush fire in the 5600 block of Topsy Bel Road, she said. The fire was growing along the fence line from the pile.

The incident appears to be accidental, but an investigation is ongoing.

The victim is one of four older people who have died from out-of-control burn piles in the state this year.

The man reportedly went missing during efforts to contain the fire which had gotten out-of-control, authorities said. His body was later discovered still covered in flames by a relative.

Two other fire-related deaths were reported this week in Sarepta and New Iberia. Both victims were in their 80s.

“These are sad and stunning cases that should bring everyone pause,” State Fire Marshal H. “Butch” Browning said in a press release. “Just because there is no burn ban in place in your area, that does not mean that conditions can’t change quicker than you can safely react.”

Browning is warning residents about the dangers of open burning.

“Don’t let the fact that you’re burning brush outside keep you from understanding smoke from that fire can and will overtake you if you’re not careful,” Browning said. “Conducting open burning is a dangerous practice, no matter how frequenting you do it, and it requires multiple safety steps to be taken every single time.”

Those safety tips include ensuring weather conditions are safe for burning, establishing a burn pile at least 75 feet from any structures and remaining vigilant over the fire.