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Family of 4 dies after smoke detector doesn’t alert them to fire, Louisiana officials say

A family of four, including two children, was killed in a house fire early Wednesday, Jan. 19, in Slidell, Louisiana.

A family of four, including two children, was killed in a house fire early Wednesday, Jan. 19, in Slidell, Louisiana.

Screengrab from WDSU

An overnight fire claimed the lives of a Louisiana couple and their two young daughters early Wednesday, Jan. 19, according to multiple news outlets.

Crews worked to extinguish the flames that engulfed a home in the Eden Isles subdivision in Slidell, St. Tammany Fire Protection District No. 1 officials said. The fire is believed to be an accident, though the official cause is under investigation.

The victims have been identified as Phoenix Lousteau, 33; Stephen Lousteau, 40; Payton Lousteau, 5; and Mackenzie Lousteau, 10; Nola.com reported, citing St. Tammany coroner Dr. Charles Preston.

The couple’s son, who wasn’t home at the time, was later notified.

Officials said the home only had one smoke detector, which wasn’t working, according to news sites.

(*4*) Preston said, according to WDSU.

The victims did not sustain thermal injuries in the blaze, indicating they likely died from smoke inhalation, the coroner said during a Jan. 18 news conference streamed by WWL-TV. Their autopsies are scheduled for later this week.

St. Tammany Fire Chief Chris Kauffman said it was a neighbor who called 911 to report the fire just before 1:30 a.m. It’s not known how long the fire had been burning before crews arrived.

The neighbor reported hearing an explosion at the home that morning, according to Kauffman. The blast was from propane bottles exploding as the home was overtaken by flames, he said, according to Nola.com.

“It’s just a tough day,” the fire chief told reporters Wednesday. “I’ve been here 34 years. We have not lost a family like this in a residential home fire in my 34 years. … It’s horrible.”

Three of the victims were taken to a hospital, where they died, fire officials said.

“It was tough on our firefighters, pulling the victims out,” Kauffman added, according to Nola.com, “but they did everything they could to give this family a chance.”

Slidell is about 33 miles northeast of New Orleans.

This story was originally published January 19, 2022 6:00 PM.

Tanasia is a national Real-Time reporter based in Atlanta covering news across Georgia, Mississippi and the southeastern U.S. Her sub-beat is retail and consumer news. She’s an alumna of Kennesaw State University and joined McClatchy in 2020.



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