Fatal fires spike in Jefferson Parish

JEFFERSON PARISH, LA (WVUE) - Since the end of October, seven people have lost their lives in fatal fires in Jefferson Parish. The most recent one happened Sunday morning, at around 3:20 AM, on the 4300 block of Anthony Street in Metairie.

Jefferson Parish fire officials say firefighters arrived on scene within five minutes, to find the fire fully involved.

"A lot of fire, a lot of destruction when they got there," said Jefferson Parish Fire Chief Dave Tibbetts. "A primary search was made. A woman was found unconscious in the residence and taken outside. First aid was rendered but, unfortunately, to no avail."

12 hours later, residents are still in disbelief, many too shaken to speak with us on camera.

The woman who passed away here is the seventh fire fatality in Jefferson Parish, in less than two months.

"We've had three in our jurisdiction, alone, probably in the last month," said Tibbetts. "As far as my knowledge goes, we have no other fatalities this year."

Jefferson Parish Fire Chief Tibbetts says he's well aware of the startling statistics.

"Are we working hard enough? And we're going to keep pushing that window, that envelope to work harder. Unfortunately, sometimes these things happen in waves if you will," explained Tibbetts. "It's that time of year. The weather changes, it's the holiday season, we have Christmas trees in houses, we have decorations, a lot of cooking."

We told you about the first fire in Gretna, October 24th, that took the lives of two, blind twins. Then, another fatal fire November 30th claimed the lives of two men in a Metairie apartment. On Friday, a man and woman died in an apartment fire in Harvey.

Chief Tibbetts couldn't comment on all the fires but says, the father and son in Metairie could have possibly been saved.

"That structure did not have a smoke detector in that apartment where the fire took place," Tibbetts said. "It's tough knowing there was an answer out there that could've worked."

He says fire prevention is one of the department's most important jobs, especially ensuring people have working smoke detectors in their homes.

"It's so important. It gives you so much time to make a decision and get out of the house," said Tibbetts. "Unfortunately, when someone notices a fire that's already blowing out of a window or something, the chances of someone being on the inside and surviving are slim."

Chief Tibbetts also advises families perform fire drills, know how to escape and where to meet loved ones once they do.

"So many times we hear of folks, they come out, they're not sure where a loved one is. They go back in and, sometimes, it's a fatal mistake," he explained.

While Tibbetts and his team continue outreach and education in the community, those on Anthony Street struggle to move forward from this deadly blaze.

Chief Tibbetts tells us the woman who died in Metairie, overnight, recently had smoke alarms installed in her home. Right now, he says they're analyzing those alarms to see if they functioned properly.

Fox 8 was unable to get in touch with fire officials in Gretna for an update on the fatal fire October 24th.

Officials in Harvey say they have no new information on their investigation at this time.

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