State Fire Marshal deputies are continuing to investigate the circumstances of an overnight house fire in Abbeville that claimed the life of an elderly man.
Abbeville firefighters responded just after midnight to the fire in the 600 block of Alphonse Street. They later discovered the body of a man in the home's living room.
While official identification and cause of death is pending an autopsy by the Vermilion Parish Coroner's Office, the victim is believed to be the 80-year-old homeowner.
After an assessment of the scene, deputies determined that the fire originated in the home's kitchen. Through witness statements, it was learned that the home was without power and that the homeowner had been seen purchasing large amounts of candles in recent days. While the official cause of the fire remains undetermined at this time, deputies cannot rule out unsafe heating practices as a possible contributing factor.
KATC's Abby Breidenbach spoke with neighbors who say the fire seems to be the result of a tragic accident.
"I feel sad. I heard the news just now," commented Bonnie Smiling. "It's a sad feeling, it's a sad time."
Neighbor Michael Thibodeaux said the homeowner had "no lights" and was using candles, while Abbeville Fire Chief Jude Mire added that investigators received reports from the public who saw the man at a local grocery store purchasing candles.
Mire reiterates, along with the State Fire Marshal's Office, the importance of safe home heating during this time of year. Neighbors hope a lesson will come of the upsetting incident that took the life of their friend, who they say would come by their trailer each day on his bike.
"He was a good man."
Some of the top safety tips for heating your home are:
Place space heaters 3-5 feet from combustible objects like blankets
Plug all heating appliances directly into wall outlets, not power strips or extension cords
Do not use stoves or ovens to heat homes
Don't overfill fireplaces/wood burning stoves
Do not leave candles/open flames (or space heaters) left unattended
Have working smoke alarms in your home
The SFM's Operation Save-A-Life program partners with local fire departments and districts to provide FREE smoke alarm installations, at any time of the year, for families in need of assistance accessing the critical emergency-alert equipment.
In addition to having working smoke alarms, the SFM also emphasizes the importance of having planned and practiced escape routes for your home that include knowing two ways out of every room.
To register for a free smoke alarm, or learn more about Operation Save-A-Life, visit lasfm.org.
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