Damage to Slidell home too extensive to determine cause of deadly fire

Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 2:53 PM CST
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SLIDELL, La. (WVUE) - Officials are unable to determine the cause of a fire that killed four family members in Slidell.

According to investigators, the fire was accidental in nature, but the damage to the home was too extensive to determine where or how it started.

The fire was mainly in the rear of the house, with a covered wooden deck spanning the length of the home.

“Numerous possible ignition sources were located in the area of origin, and investigators examined the scene thoroughly to determine which sources may or may not have contributed to starting the fire,” officials said Friday in a press release.

Investigators were able to rule out a barbecue pit and an attached propane tank found in the area, as well as a crawfish burner that was not attached to a propane tank.

Other sources found in the area that could not be completely ruled out were; outside decorative lights around the deck, electrical lines running underneath the deck, and a power strip that was found in the area.

“Unfortunately, with the amount of damage sustained to this portion of the home, investigators were not able to scientifically determine exactly which ignition source was responsible for this tragic fire,” the statement concluded.

Four family members, including two children, died early Wednesday (Jan. 19) when a fire raged through a house in Slidell’s Eden Isles subdivision that was equipped with one inoperative smoke detector, fire officials said.

“This was a tragic, tragic fire,” said Chris Kaufmann, Chief of St. Tammany Fire Prevention District No. 1. “We have never lost a family like this in a residential house fire in my 34 years in Slidell. ... This is just not something that is normal for firefighters to deal with.”

The parish coroner, Dr. Charles Preston, identified the victims as Phoenix Lousteau, 33; her husband Stephen Lousteau, 40; and their daughters Payton Lousteau, 5, and Mackenzie Lousteau, 10. Dr. Preston will conduct autopsies on the victims, but he says there were no signs of burns on the bodies and believes all four died from smoke inhalation.

More: Parents, two daughters killed in Slidell fire

The family’s fifth member -- a teenage sibling who was staying overnight in his mother’s residence on the south shore -- was located and notified that the rest of his family had perished, after firefighters braved flames and heavy smoke to confirm he was not in the house.

Officials say to schedule the installation of a smoke detector through the program, you can contact your local fire department.

To sign up online to have one installed, CLICK HERE.

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