Neighbors react to deadly Houma fire - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Neighbors react to deadly Houma fire

Updated:

NEW ORLEANS - Fire officials and the American Red Cross plead with people to make sure they have working smoke detectors in every room after an early morning fire that killed three children. The fire broke out in the trailer they were staying in at the Whispering Oaks trailer park in Houma.

Early Christmas morning, a fire tore through a trailer. Trapped inside were three children, ages 11, 12 and 13. Neighbor Chantel Guillotte recalls, "He said I tried to get them,  he was telling his wife in Spanish, he said, momma forgive me. I tried to get our babies, I tried."

Witnesses say the children's father risked his life to try to pull them out, but he was no match for the flames. "Poor thing, their hair was burned, they had burns in their hair, their back, their arms, his face, he had burns all over," said Guillotte.

Fire investigators say 12 people were staying in the trailer. The children and their parents had just arrived from Alabama to celebrate Christmas with relatives. The kids were sleeping in the kitchen/living room area where the fire is believed to have started.

"By the looks, condition of this home, we believe that it will be very easily conceivable that there was a space heater in the living room, it would've been within feet of combustible materials," said State Fire Marshal Butch Browning.

Fire officials say space heaters should only be used in well-ventilated rooms and should be kept a safe distance from curtains, furniture and combustibles.  And children should never be left alone with them. In addition, each room of a home should have smoke detectors. The trailer in this fire didn't have any. A spokesperson for the American Red Cross says they're constantly responding to house fires, especially in these cold, winter months.

"We've had just since Friday, five fires and that's just in our area," said Melissa Eugene-Duplantier with the Red Cross.

In this case, seven other people had to be sent to Baton Rouge Hospital for treatment, including the parents of the children who died and five other kids.

"The survivors have been injured so now they're dealing with a recovery process as well as the loss of three children which is tough on a community and much less a family," said Eugene-Duplantier.

This tragedy is already affecting the neighbors and relatives of the victims, many of whom heard the screams Wednesday morning, but couldn't do anything to help. Now, they're left trying to pick up the pieces.

The surviving fire victims were able to escape the trailer through windows and a back door. They have injuries ranging from smoke inhalation to severe burns.

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