1.17.24 – Baton Rouge, La. (BRPROUD)
Safety officials say they’ve responded to 38 fires across Louisiana within the last four days. Firefighters say that cold weather, stoves, and heaters are contributing factors.
“There are a lot of Louisiana people who are for all tense and purposes having one of the worst nights of their lives,” said Ed Bush, Regional Disaster Officer for Louisiana Red Cross.
Since Jan. 1, the Red Cross has responded to 131 fires across Louisiana. They’re calling it the unknown disaster.
“It typically affects just a small group of people or maybe just one family,” said Bush.
Bush says they provide shelter the same day along with financial assistance.
“We find that there’s always an uptick in home fires during cold times because people are using things that they don’t normally use to keep themselves warm and many of those come with risks,” said Bush.Pipe burst in LSU engineering building; flooding cancels some classes
Justin Hill, Public Information Officer for the Baton Rouge Fire Department, says BRFD has responded to five fires related to heat appliances.
One happening on Byron Street, leaving a family of nine displaced. One person was hospitalized and left in critical condition.
“Keep that space heater at least three feet away from anything that can catch on fire. That includes pets and kids. Don’t let them play around it or anything like that,” said Hill.
Hill says when the temperature drops, people will do anything to stay warm.
“Unfortunately, one of the fires that we responded to over the last couple of days was caused by some unhoused individuals that were inside of a home, a vacant home, trying to keep warm,” said Hill.
If you notice anyone staying inside vacant buildings to keep warm, you’re asked to contact local authorities.
You can also refer them to St. Vincent De Paul, one of many shelters in the area.
Officials also emphasize the importance of having working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and an escape plan. Officials say it could increase your chances of survival.