Huey Levron and his wife are still stunned over how fast fire claimed their Paradis residence last Thursday, but they are thankful for the smoke alarms that gave them time to escape the blaze.
“It’s 100 percent loss,” said Levron of the fire that destroyed their home at 805 Early Street. “We lost everything.”
An electrical fire is the suspected cause of the blaze, which may have started in a bedroom, he said. Volunteer fire departments in Des Allemands, Paradis and Hahnville responded to the call.
“My wife and daughter were fixing to walk the two dogs when the smoke alarm went off,” Huey recounted.
They were outside when his wife called him at 10:41 a.m. and he rushed to the scene with barely enough time to run in the house to grab two things: the ashes of wife’s father and a satchel containing their important papers.
As he fled out the door, the house was filling with smoke and fire. Minutes later, their home was gone and they are living with one of their four daughters until they can find a temporary place while they rebuild.
“We’ve been here 18 years so we had a lot of memories lost,” Huey lamented. “It’s something you can’t bring back.”
His wife, Veronica, added it’s an even more difficult time with this happening during the holidays.
The couple can barely discuss their loss, but they both call it devastating.
“We’ll get through,” Huey said. “It’s going to take awhile, but it’ll never be the same again, though.”
Huey said they thought they’d have a handle on a disaster like this, particularly since this is their second total loss to fire. Fire also destroyed their mobile home several years ago.
“We don’t have a clue right now,” he said of what to do. “You don’t know which way to go.”
They do appreciate the American Red Cross’ help, as well as that from family and friends.
What they do know is the smoke alarm made a big difference and is the reason they are still here today. Huey also praised the fire departments for doing a great job fighting the fire.
For this reason, the couple plan on rebuilding and fully intend on their new home having smoke alarms.
The fire that destroyed the Levrons’ home is one of several area firefighters responded to in the last two weeks, focusing attention on the need for safety tips.
Petit advised anyone without smoke detectors should get them, and then they should be checked to ensure they’re working. Call the local fire department to get them at no charge.
“The other big thing is when you leave your house, you check the stove,” Petit said. “Make sure to turn off pots and pans on the stove.”
In these colder holidays, he advised using extension cords properly.
“Those cheap extension cords are causing problems,” he said. “Don’t stack clothing or boxes on top of them either.”
With live Christmas trees, make sure to water them properly, as well as ensure cords are properly connected, Petit said.
Also, do not leave candles burning unattended, he added.
In a fire, Petit warned not to open windows or doors.
“If you leave the stuff open it will cause too much oxygen and fuel the fire,” he said. “It will make it burn faster.”
Petit said a welcome change has come as of Dec. 12 with the implementation of the “emergency fire dispatch protocol.”
911 dispatchers collect incident information that helps prioritize, address safety concerns and provide life support instructions.
The protocol ensures consistent service, more efficient use of resources, improved procedures, reduced exposure to liability, and certified dispatchers, Petit said.
The American Red Cross added that residents should keep all fuel like paper or clothing at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves and fireplaces. Also, don’t leave heaters and fireplaces unattended. Buy space heaters that shut off automatically.
The Red Cross advised to never use a stove or oven to heat a residence.
Huey Levron certainly agreed over the need to take precautions.
“The main thing is everybody was safe,” he said. “Everything else can be replaced. You can’t replace a life.”