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Family rebuilding after deadly fire at Lafayette apartment complex

Lafayette apartment complex fire.jpg
Posted at 6:28 PM, May 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-14 20:21:02-04

LAFAYETTE, La. — The place Jamie Cormier called home is gone after a fire on Sunday tore through her apartment complex.

"We're assessing everything, taking it one day at a time, that's all we can do," Cormier said.

Her neighbor, Ja'Vonte Rideaux, never made it out. The fire department says the 19-year-old died from smoke inhalation. The fire happened at Ile Des Cannes apartment complex on Scotsdale Street in Lafayette. The fire started in the bottom unit and traveled to the second story. Only one apartment on that floor had a family living inside.

KATC was told by both families who live here that their units do not have smoke detectors or fire extinguishers. We wanted to know if landlords are required to provide those items. KATC found those answers.

"The only reason I had one in my apartment is because when I moved in, my boyfriend said no, this will not fly and installed one," said Cormier. "So I only had one by the kitchen but fire extinguishers, no. None."

Cormier said she contacted the owner of the building, Champs Reality, for a smoke detector when she moved in a year ago, but they did not respond to her. KATC tried to get in touch with them as well. We went to the address listed for the company; the secretary said the owner would call back, but we never got that call.

"A few times that I had called the office to tell them 'There are not smoke detectors or fire extinguishers in here, I have a kid, I need these things to feel safe.' They said, 'We'll get back to you,' but nothing," Cormier said.

Lafayette Parish follows International Property Maintenance Code, which states all buildings that house people should have at least a basic fire alarm. Randy Viator with Lafayette Consolidated Government says there is an exception: the year the building was built determines how many smoke alarms should be installed by the owner of the building. Cormier's building was built around 1980.

"Probably needed one, that would be in the common area. Now it's upgraded, it's required to have in multiple rooms," LCG housing inspector, Randy Viator explained.

However, there are no rules in place requiring fire extinguishers.

"Not as far as residential. we recommend having an extinguisher. The main thing is have the smoke detector so the tenants can get out," Viator added.

Cormier continues to move, thankful she and her daughter were not home at the time of the fire, but saddened by the loss of Ja'Vonte Rideaux.

"I know the amount of smoke in there was just bad, everything was covered in smoke. A black layer over everything," said Cormier.

According to the building inspector we spoke with, residents can file a complaint with LCG. A citation is then given, and the owner has 90 days to take care of the issue. Viator says his office currently has more than 700 cases against landlords across the parish for renting out buildings that are not up to code.

We filed a public records request for the building where Rideux died. According to those reports, there are no complaints or violations filed against the owner or at the address.

If you or someone you know is in need of help, here are several steps you can take.

  • To file a complaint on code violations in Lafayette Parish, you can call 337-291-8461
  • If your landlord is not responsive to maintenance issues, you can file a complaint through the Attorney General's office by calling 1-800-273-5718
  • If you are in need of a smoke detector contact the Fire Prevention Office or the State Fire Marshal's Office

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