CHURCH POINT, La. (KPEL News) - The Office of the State Fire Marshal in Louisiana has confirmed it is investigating a house fire that took the life of a 4-year-old girl on Sunday.

The Church Point Fire Department said they responded to the 100 block of Saint Zeno Drive on Sunday morning. Three occupants were hospitalized after firefighters arrived at the scene. However, they said a child had not made it out of the home.

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The three occupants who made it outside were a father, mother, and 8-year-old boy, the Fire Marshal's office confirmed on Wednesday. "Unfortunately," the office said in a release, "the body of a little girl was later found in the home’s living room."

Credit: State Fire Marshal
Credit: State Fire Marshal

"While official identification and cause of death are pending with the parish Coroner’s Office," the release noted, "at this time, the victim is believed to be a 4-year-old resident of the home who had an upcoming birthday."

The fire began in the center of the home, investigators said, but the exact cause is unknown at this time. It is possible that an electrical malfunction or "improper use of smoking materials" could have been factors that led to the fire.

The Church Point community is coming together to help the family, KLFY has reported.

"While many fire hazards can lead to tragedy in our homes," the fire marshal's office said, "one of the most common fatal home fire causes, electrical malfunction, can be avoided by having a licensed electrician inspect and repair any concerning electrical activity."

The release also noted that they could not locate working smoke alarms in the home.

"The SFM wants to stress to all Louisiana residents that smoke alarms have proven to be the difference between life and death in a fire emergency," the office said.

"If you need assistance obtaining smoke alarms for your home, Operation Save-A-Life can help. To learn more about Operation Save-A-Life, or to register for a free smoke alarm, visit our website at or contact your local fire department to request a free smoke alarm installation."

Heating Equipment and House Fires

Because the weather is changing, another major threat for homes in south Louisiana is malfunctions with heaters.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, heating devices are one of the leading causes of house fires during the winter months. Via the NFPA website:

  • Heating equipment is a leading cause of fires in U.S. homes. Local fire departments responded to an estimated average of 48,530 fires involving heating equipment each year in 2014-2018. These fires resulted in annual losses of 500 civilian deaths, 1,350 civilian injuries, and $1.1 billion in direct property damage.
  • Heating equipment caused one in seven home structure fires (14%) that took place in 2014–2018 and 19% of home fire deaths.
  • The leading factor contributing to home heating fires (25%) was failure to clean, principally from solid-fueled heating equipment, primarily chimneys.
  • Over half (54%) of the home heating fire deaths were caused by having heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattress, or bedding.
  • A vast majority of home heating fire deaths (81%) involved stationary or portable space heaters
  • Nearly half (48%) of all home heating fires occurred in January, February, and December.

It's always important to make sure that your equipment is working properly and, when in doubt, have a professional check the equipment, as well as all your wiring.

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