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50 people displaced after Kenner apartment fire

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More than 50 people are displaced after a fire rips through a Kenner apartment complex.

“It’s sad, it’s sad, but thank in the name of Jesus we were able to get out and we wasn’t asleep,” resident Wilma Arcenaux said.

Arcenaux is one of about 50 who fled from her Alabama Avenue apartment Sunday afternoon, as flames ripped through hers and an adjacent building.

“We stepped out and started seeing smoke coming from the children’s room in the corner in the ceiling,” Arcenaux explained.

It took just minutes for Kenner firefighters to show up, just after 3 p.m.   

Kenner Fire Chief John Hellmers says, “Both units were burning, they had fire showing through the roof. The fire was pretty much the size of a 2,000 square foot house.”

It’s unclear where the flames started but Hellmers says one thing is for sure, it spread quickly. “It’s very unusual, usually that’s something you'd see in the middle of the morning, two or three in the morning, when everybody’s sleeping,” he said.

Hellmers credits the time of day with everyone evacuating safely. As firefighters checked for hotspots throughout the afternoon, it became clear, both buildings suffered heavy damage. If not from flames, from smoke and water.

“Right now there’s nothing I can do but just hope that there’s something I there that I can salvage,” Arcenaux said.

With the Red Cross on scene, nearby neighbors also showed up to offer support.

Doris Ribeiro says, “I have plenty of room if they need a room, or food or clothing even.”

Wilma Arcenaux isn’t sure where she and her husband will stay now with their two grandkids. But she says she’s a Katrina survivor. And if she can make it through that, she says, she’ll make it through again.

The Red Cross opened a shelter Sunday night for the fire victims and they’ll begin working with them on a case by case basis Monday morning.

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