After five members of a family perished in a fire at a Broadmoor home Tuesday morning, fire investigators revealed that the home had no working smoke alarms.
Hours after their shifts ended, firefighters from around the city chose to return to the home where five people died overnight.
Putting up pieces of plywood, they worked to conceal the damage the flames left behind. Their mission was simple; to prevent the young classmates of the three children killed from viewing the horrific scene. The home is located directly across the street from Andrew Wilson School.
Principal Logan Crowe says, "We knew the family very well. The mom was here every day. The three children were adored by all."
According to a family member, everyone inside the house was asleep when the fire started. "They heard loud popping noises and when they got up, there was smoke, the smoke was very, very heavy," Nadia Major said.
New Orleans Fire Department Supt. Tim McConnell says if the home had working smoke alarms, the family would've woken up sooner. "I truly believe, I know for a fact, the outcome would've been different," McConnell said.
McConnell says scenes like the one in Broadmoor are a sad reality because so many homes across the city don't have working smoke alarms.
"Money should be no object in this, money is no object. If you need a smoke alarm, ask a firefighter," McConnell said.
Not only does the fire department give out free smoke alarms, firefighters will come to your home to install it. It's important to have a working system year-round, but especially now that cold weather season is upon us and people turn to space heaters and stoves to keep warm. It's something McConnell says is a very bad idea because of the carbon monoxide emitted. McConnell explains, "I know it's going to be cold in these days coming up around the corner, but I have to encourage people, don't use any kind of heating device that's not meant for that."
While the cause of this fire is still under investigation, McConnell confirms a space heater was on in the room where the fire started, and 77-year-old Martha Anderson may have been smoking. The family's deaths have spurred action among their friends and neighbors to get smoke alarms.
Rose Adams says, "I'm gonna go run by and remind all my friends to make sure they get those and the carbon monoxide, I'm gonna make sure they get those."
It's a message the fire department has preached for years. McConnell says it's sad that it takes something like this for people to listen. "If from every tragedy you can't find some positive that would make the community safer, it's a failure on our part," he said.
Firefighters will be going door-to-door in the Broadmoor neighborhood later this week urging people to install smoke alarms if they don't already have them.