OAKDALE, La. (AP) — The 12th Louisiana resident to die in a house fire this year may have been trying to stay warm, Louisiana State Fire Marshal H. “Butch” Browning said Friday, renewing his call for home heating safety as cold weather moved into the state.
The victim’s body was found in a bedroom after the Oakdale Fire Department put out the blaze Thursday afternoon, a news release from Browning’s office said. His identity has not been confirmed but he’s believed to be a 56-year-old man who lived in the house.
Deputies have not determined the cause but cannot rule out the possibility that a space heater in the living room was too close to combustible objects, according to the fire marshal’s office.
“This is now the 12th life lost to fire in Louisiana in 2021, and this time, as frigid temperatures make their way across the state, it seems this fire, sadly, may be related to an attempt to stay warm,” Browning said.
He said firefighters were called to the house about 2:30 p.m. Thursday. On Wednesday, house fires killed two men in Cotton Valley and one in Hammond.
Browning asked people to be sure space heaters are plugged directly into wall outlets rather than extension cords or power strips, and are at least 3 to 5 feet (1 to 1.5 meters) from anything that might burn.
“Never leave a space heater, or open flame like a candle, unattended,” the news release said. “In addition, do not use stoves or ovens as heat sources and do not leave fireplaces and wood-burning ovens unattended or overloaded with too much wood.”
A wood-burning stove may have been used to heat the Cotton Valley house where two men died, the fire marshal’s office said Wednesday.