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Second Iberia resident dies after post-Delta fire

Posted at 12:25 PM, Oct 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-14 17:59:24-04

A second person has died after a New Iberia fire that officials have linked to Hurricane Delta.

Mark Cunningham, 73, died from injuries he sustained in the Sunday morning fire, Iberia Parish officials say. Judy Neal died in the fire Sunday.

State officials classified Neal's death as Delta-related. It is expected that Cunningham's death will be classified as such as well.

The Iberia Fire Department responded to the 200 block of Lost Lake Lane in New Iberia just before 8 a.m. They found the body of a woman in her 70s inside. A second occupant, a man also in his 70s, was transported to an area hospital with serious burn injuries.

Today the State Fire Marshal released more information.

Just before 8 a.m. on October 11, the Iberia Fire Department responded to reports of an explosion and fire at a home in the 200 block of Lost Lake Lane in New Iberia.

Upon arrival, firefighters encountered a badly-burned, 73-year-old male occupant who was at the edge of the driveway trying to get help. The body of a 70-year-old female occupant was later found inside. The male occupant was transported to a specialized burn unit for treatment, but unfortunately succumbed to his injuries this morning.

Following an assessment of the scene and obtaining witness statements, SFM deputies determined the fire occurred in conjunction with the female occupant lighting a cigarette. Hurricane Delta damage observed around the home, including broken pipes and the smell of natural gas, led investigators to believe a natural gas leak was active at the time the cigarette was lit, leading to the explosion and fire. Further evaluation by utility professionals in the days since the fire have further confirmed that determination.

The Louisiana Department of Health has officially verified these deaths as storm-related.

"The State Fire Marshal’s Office would like to remind all Louisianans to thoroughly assess any possible infrastructure damage to your home following a storm, and if any is observed, shut that service off, report the issue to the provider and refrain from using that utility service until professional repairs are complete," the SFM says.

Members of Acadiana's animal rescue community have identified the couple has hard-working members, who helped many animals over the years.

Here's that post:

You can read the SFM post here: