Two-alarm fire affects 2 New Orleans East families Christmas morning

Published: Dec. 25, 2021 at 8:25 AM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A two-alarm fire destroyed one home and the garage of another early Christmas morning (Dec. 25) in New Orleans East, the New Orleans Fire Department said.

The fire is believed to have started in a rear bedroom of a home in the 4400 block of Arthur Drive, then spread throughout the home and to the house next door. Three adults who were in the homes when the blaze started at 2:53 a.m. managed to escape without injury before firefighters arrived.

Homeowner James Taylor said he awoke to the smell of smoke and worked quickly to get his wife Valerie out of the house.

“I thought I was dreaming,” he said. “I wish somebody would have come kick me or something. The fire was so bad, all I could do was run back to the bedroom and get her. When I came back, I couldn’t see nothing.”

After spending the last several months rebuilding their roof that was damaged severely by Hurricane Ida, the Taylors said they have now lost everything, including the Christmas presents they bought for their grandchildren.

“All my grandkids’ presents, everything.” James Taylor said. “I mean, after 40 years, I’ve been working all my life ...”

But as their loved ones told them, the best Christmas gift was knowing they survived the fire.

“Yep, all of them, and my boys,” Valerie Taylor said. “They said, ‘Grandma we wouldn’t even be talking right now. We’re just happy y’all are alive.’

“My sons are over there, all five of them. They’re A-1. Between them and God, they got me.”

The NOFD said it took 16 units and 44 firefighters to bring the fire under control by 3:34 a.m., but by then the one-story brick home in which the fire originated was “completely destroyed.”

The fire spread from one home to the connected garage of another, which was also completely destroyed. But firefighters and a brick separating wall prevented any interior damage to the neighboring home, the NOFD said.

The first firefighters arrived within three minutes of the 911 call at 2:56 a.m., the NOFD said, and a second alarm was sounded at 3:01 a.m. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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