State Fire Marshal reports deadliest January since 2018 for home fires

Staff Report

The State Fire Marshal's Office recorded the deadliest January since 2018.

“We have said time and time again that a drop in temperatures inevitably leads to a rise in fatal home fires in Louisiana which is why we have been beating the drum about safe home heating practices,” State Fire Marshal H. “Butch” Browning stated in a news release. “We have got to see the public care more about their safety inside of their homes to stop this terrible trend.”

As of Jan. 31, there have been 15 fire fatalities throughout Louisiana. The last time the state saw this level of loss of life to fire was January 2018 when 20 people died in home fires.

Weather data for temperature averages in Louisiana for the month of January from 2017 through 2022 show 2018 and 2022 as the only years the temperature averaged lower than the normal temperatures for areas including New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Shreveport.

Louisiana State Fire Marshal Butch Browning addresses the crowd at the grand opening for the Donaldsonville Fire Station on Dec. 5, 2019.

“The steps families can take to avoid becoming the next tragic fire death we report are simple and should be done right now,” stated Browning.

  • Place space heaters 3-5 feet from combustible objects like blankets and curtains
  • 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

Regarding smoke alarms, deputies confirmed neither home had working smoke alarms. Smoke alarms are a proven tool to alert residents to a fire danger in order to escape safely, even in a mobile home or RV.

If you need assistance obtaining smoke alarms for your home, Operations Save-A-Life can help. The program partners with local fire departments to install smoke alarms for free. To learn more about Operation Save-A-Life, visit our website at lasfm.org.