NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - “I heard a boom, and I said, ‘Oh my God!’ It sounded like it was in front of my door,” said a witness to the aftermath of car crash that sparked a large fire Wednesday night (March 21) in Broadmoor.
Just after 8:30 p.m., people came out to see the Unity-1 Beauty and Hair Salon engulfed in flames.
“You could see the flames going up,” said the witness, who asked not to be identified.
Some grabbed their cell phones and started recording.
“I could hear them saying, ‘Get out of the house!’ It was just complete pandemonium. All of the lights went out and you could just see the flames,” the witness said.
Police said the incident started when an NOPD unit tried to stop what they believed to be a stolen vehicle several blocks away at South Derbigny and Toledano streets.
“Upon the officers initiating this traffic stop by activating their lights, the vehicle started to stop and then accelerated. We believe our officers at that time disengaged and deactivated their lights,” said NOPD Chief Shaun Ferguson.
Police said the suspected stolen vehicle continue speeding, crashing into several cars, hitting a tree and then running into the Unity-1 Beauty Supply and Hair Salon and bursting into flames at Washington Ave. and S. White St.
“Immediately they went into a rescue mode upon their arrival. They discovered a female and two kids in this building,” Ferguson said.
“I saw people just trying to break the windows,” the witness said.
The witness told FOX 8 News that within minutes, first responders jumped into action using ladders to rescue several people from the burning building. Those victims were rushed to the hospital, along with two police officers who suffered smoke inhalation. A firefighter also suffered smoke injuries but was treated on the scene. The suspected stolen vehicle was engulfed in flames and police said two people inside of that car died.
Meanwhile, the building continue to burn for hours. Today, the cleanup began and people in the neighborhood tried to come to grips with what unfolded.
“All we can do is pray. We have to pray for our community. That’s all we can do,” the witness said.
Police have not released the names of the two people who died in the suspected stolen car, and said the investigation is far from over.