Parents, two daughters killed in Louisiana house fire leaving teen sibling behind
SLIDELL, La. (WVUE/Gray News) – Four family members, including two children, were killed when a fire raged through a home that was equipped with one inoperative smoke detector, fire officials said.
A fifth member of the family, a teenage sibling, was staying at his mother’s home elsewhere when the fire started, according to WVUE.
The teen was located and was told the rest of his family had died; firefighters battled flames and heavy smoke to confirm he was not in the house.
The parish coroner said Phoenix Lousteau, 33; her husband Stephen Lousteau, 40; and their two daughters, ages 5 and 10, were killed in the fire.
An autopsy will be conducted on the victims, but the coroner said there were no signs of burns on the bodies. He said he believes all four died from smoke inhalation.
Officials said they believe the deaths might have been prevented had the home been equipped with working smoke detectors in each bedroom.
“There is no question that working smoke detectors would give a family a chance to wake up and get out,” said Chris Kaufmann, chief of St. Tammany Fire Prevention District No. 1. “But this family didn’t have a chance.”
Kaufmann said neighbors were the first to report the fire after two propane tanks exploded on the consumed house’s back porch around 1:30 a.m.
“We gave the family the best chance we could give them,” Kaufmann said. “But we were playing catch-up. ... We don’t know how long the fire had been burning until the neighbor called us.”
The fire was termed “accidental.”
“This was a tragic, tragic fire,” Kaufmann said. “We have never lost a family like this in a residential house fire in my 34 years in Slidell. ... This is just not something that is normal for firefighters to deal with.”
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