Mandeville home-renter believes fire started with her wood-burni - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Mandeville home-renter believes fire started with her wood-burning stove

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MANDEVILLE, La. - A home-renter in Mandeville says she was trying to keep warm with a wood-burning stove just before the house burst into flames Tuesday.

Firefighters dispatched to 1816 Jefferson St. at 11:33 a.m. arrived to find the entire back of the single-story home engulfed in flames and thick, black smoke.

"I just wanted to say thank you to the firefighters for their hard work in the cold weather," said fire victim Kathleen Primeaux.

Just five minutes after Primeaux left her home, her neighbor saw the fire erupting.

"See those windows? The flames were coming out almost to that telephone pole," said Steven Montz.

Firefighters say they arrived on the scene within a minute of getting the call and battled the flames in freezing temperatures.

"When you get temperatures like this, one of the things we have to deal with is the water and the freezing and so forth," said Mandeville Fire Chief Merrick Tassin. "As we use our ladders and get water on the ladders when it's this cold, you get ice that develops on the ladders. Your fittings when they get wet they get difficult and your gear and so forth when it gets wet."

Luckily, Tassin said, this is the only fire this week that seems to be related to the cold weather. He said he often sees too many houses go up in flames when it gets cold.

"There is a lot of times we find people buy heaters that are for outdoor use that they actually bring inside," said Tassin.

Montz, who first saw the fire, said he was in his garage dealing with a more common cold weather issue - frozen pipes.

"I forgot to leave the water trickling, and my hot water was not working," Montz said.

He showed FOX 8 News how he uses a heat gun to thaw the pipes under his home.

"The best idea is to insulate your pipes instead of do something like this, but I forgot," he said.

As Montz tried to revive his hot water, Primeaux said she was using her wood-burning stove to keep warm.

She never expected she'd return home to see the charred remains of her house and her belongings.

"There's a little stove and it set fire to the house and it was just an accident, accidents happen and I know people can understand that," said Primeaux.

She said she hopes this can serve as a reminder to everyone to take extra precautions and stay safe during this extreme cold spell.

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