UPDATE: Mother and 2 young children dead in Mt. Airy house fire

Published 10:06 am Wednesday, September 13, 2023

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MT. AIRY – A 38-year-old mother and her two young children, a 7-year-old girl and a 2-year-old boy, are dead following a Wednesday morning structure fire in Mt. Airy.

Quintella Chopin, her daughter J’irmani Edwards, and her son Therrill Edwards Jr. were located on the second floor of a two-bedroom garage-apartment.

Therrill was reported to have been found at the top of the stairs leading to the exit of the apartment. Chopin was located in a bathroom area, and Jirmani was found in what is believed to be one of the bedrooms.

At approximately 3:15 a.m. Wednesday, an individual heading to work at Marathon noticed a two-story garage was engulfed in flames in the 100 block of Marigold Street in Mt. Airy. The man went to a house situated on side of the garage-apartment to notify the occupants of the fire.

The St. John Parish Fire Department arrived within five minutes. However, due to the intensity of the flames, responders were initially unable to make entry on the structure. The fire was contained to the garage and did not spread to neighboring houses.

Ashley Rodrigue, spokesperson from the State Fire Marshal’s Office, said recovery efforts were complicated by a structural collapse related to the fire.

“At, this time, we have not had a chance to really get going on the cause investigation,” Rodrigue said. “At this time, there is nothing they are considering to be suspicious.”

No smoke detectors were located in the home.

Search efforts are now complete.

Responders with the State Fire Marshal’s Office are at the scene along with local firefighters and the Coroner’s Office.

The investigation is still in its early stages.

Two individuals were in the unaffected  home next to the garage-apartment. Trevor Edwards, family member identified as the aunt of the children was alerted to the fire after the Marathon worker knocked on her door early this morning.

The family member said Chopin was her brother’s fiancé. She described her as a dedicated mother an exceptionally hard worker.

“She loved her kids, and she loved my brother,” Edwards said. “They had been together for over 20 years, so it’s very tough.”

She described J’irmani, a second grader at Garyville-Mt. Airy Magnet, as an honor roll student with a lovable, outgoing personality. She celebrated her 7th birthday this past week. Little Therrill Jr., known affectionately as “TJ”, could be shy at first, but once he warmed up, he was full of life.

According to Edwards, this is the fourth time death has struck the close knit community within the past month.

“It’s pretty challenging to have so many deaths in a community this small,” she said. “The whole neighborhood is family. We are all kin in some form or fashion.”

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.