Lone survivor of fatal fire speaks out

Lone survivor of fatal fire speaks out

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Derrick Anderson is dealing with more loss than most can imagine.

"It's like a nightmare. It's like a living nightmare," says Anderson.

His three children, girlfriend and mother are gone, after his family home in Broadmoor caught fire last November.

"I have a lot of regret. I know it's wrong to say, but I should have perished with them," says Anderson.

Anderson was the lone survivor.

He's stayed quiet for four months about what happened that night, and while he doesn't want to show his face, Anderson says he's ready to tell his story.

"My family was in the house, and I woke up smelling smoke," says Anderson.

Anderson says he got out of bed, and decided to go downstairs to find out where the smoke was coming from.

"My mother's room was on fire, and I couldn't get in there to help her. The smoke was too bad. I couldn't even see in there," says Anderson.

He says he immediately thought about his girlfriend and three kids in the upstairs bedroom, so he ran to warn them.

"They were so scared. They were so shook up. They wouldn't come out. I grabbed the keys, and told everybody to run out. I'm coughing, chocking off the smoke. I ran back up stairs and said, come on, what are y'all waiting on? This is no joke, we've got to get out of here," says Anderson.

He says the kids were terrified and even locked themselves in the upstairs bedroom.

He says he ran back up to get them four times, but eventually the smoke was too much.

Moments later, Anderson says he began to hear the screams of his children and their mom from the bathroom window on the second floor.

"They were saying, help, help us, help me daddy. That's all I heard, and after a while, I didn't hear anymore screams. There were no more cries," says Anderson.

He says the fire department arrived, but it was too late.

"That's the last time, I saw them alive," says Anderson.

The bodies of 33-year-old Christina Squire, 11-year-old Jason and 7-year-old Jayla were found huddled together in the back bedroom.

He says 12-year-old Jade's body was found inside of a closet where it seems she tried to hide.

Anderson hasn't only faced the loss of his family, but he says he's also faced criticism.

"I asked the Lord, why I'm here. I go to church just about every Sunday now. That's all I can do," says Anderson.

The NOFD says working smoke detectors would have made a difference.

In fact, the fire department says a combination of what happened here, and three other fire deaths in three months time, served as a wake-up call to the community.

The push to install smoke detectors in homes across New Orleans began, and since November, the NOFD has installed 3,450 smoke detectors.

"I hope they keep it up. I think there's a lesson we can all learn from this. It could save your life," says Anderson.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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