Awakened by his dog, Calvin Baldwin discovered his house full of full of smoke and in flames on Good Children Street in Boutte.
Baldwin was asleep on his sofa, having returned earlier from cheering on Hahnville at the Class 5A state championship game. At about 2:30 a.m. Sunday morning, he was awakened by his dog, Rusty, scratching on his arm.
“There was smoke,” he said. “I saw fire up from the floor. I took the dog and, as I opened the door, it just went up in flames. That was it.”
Baldwin and Rusty escaped the blaze and ran across the street to his neighbor’s house to call 911 and then watched his residence of 15 years go up in flames.
“I was just thinking about getting out … saving myself,” he said.
The two escaped without injury, but Luling Fire Chief Craig Petit said the residence is a total loss.
Baldwin’s mother Maudie McCoy said her son was left with only the clothes on his back. The two are living with her nearby, also in Boutte, until he can rebuild.
“That night he got some clothing so he wouldn’t freeze,” she said. “Some people have given him some clothes and things. Whatever they give, we’re grateful.”
Baldwin also lost photos and mementos of his late wife, Cheryl.
But his mother added, “I’d rather see the house burn than see my child gone.”
Baldwin also readily acknowledged his dog, a Chihuahua mix rescue he adopted three years ago, for saving their lives.
Rusty’s reward will be “a real good steak,” he said.
McCoy called him, “Rusty the lifesaver.”
Petit said the cause of the fire is under investigation, but he noted it took considerable fire fighting to extinguish the blaze.
“Upon the fire engines’ arrival, it was observed that the residential structure was fully engulfed in flames,” Petit said. “The entire residence and belongings were lost in the fire, as well as a boat under the carport.”
Taking nearly an hour to extinguish, Petit said firefighters used two engines and a larger hoses to put out the blaze.
Representing about 25 firefighters, both Luling and Paradis volunteer fire departments responded to the call at 2:43 a.m. Sunday in the 300 block of Good Children Street. They left the scene around 5:19 a.m.
On Friday, the two departments (representing about 20 firefighters) had responded to a residential fire at 7:10 p.m. in the 400 block of Coronado Drive in Luling. Firefighters left the scene at around 8 p.m.
Petit said the residents had put out the fire before their arrival, which had been caused by clothing in a dryer catching fire.
“The burnt debris was removed from the residence and it was vented using positive pressure ventilation to clear smoke and fumes,” he said. “Only damage was to the clothing in the dryer and dryer itself.”
Petit said the fires topped a list of more than 16 calls received from Dec. 7 to Sunday, Dec. 10 also involving gas odors, fire alarms and auto accidents with injuries. On Friday, St. Charles Parish got sleet and snow with freezing temperatures.
“Holidays are usually busy, but this is just crazy,” he said.