Picking up the pieces of their lives after fire claims home
Finding her daughter’s ashen yearbook and granddaughter’s Girl Scout badges from the burnt remains of their mobile home in Killona nearly drove Veronica Scott to tears.
“We had got a phone call that it was on fire,” Scott said. “When we came to the scene it was halfway gone.”
Every lost home is significant, but this one put a roof over Veronica, who suffers with Lupus; her husband who has cancer; their daughter, Valaune, and her five children age 4 to 14.
“I’m very shocked,” Scott said. “I wasn’t expecting that to happen.”
Last Tuesday at about 11 p.m., the Killona, Hahnville and Luling volunteer fire departments (about 25 firefighters) were called to Killona Drive where the Scotts’ mobile home was fully engulfed in flames.
The blaze also claimed a family vehicle and neighbor Dashoun Joseph’s car.
“I was laying in my bed when the flames got so high I saw the light and looked out my window,” Joseph said. “I saw the trailer was on fire.”
Joseph grabbed his keys and ran outside in enough time to park it on the roadside, but not in enough time to save his car.
“The fire got so hot it bust the window,” he said. “I was just watching it burn my car down.”
Grabbing a hose, he tried to extinguish the car fire, but ended up using it on his mobile home only 50 feet away. By then, the fire’s heat was cracking his windows, melting trailer parts and even the blinds inside the structure.
When the Scotts arrived on the scene, Joseph said they watched the destruction of their trailer in disbelief. Though it sustained damage, Joseph was able to salvage his home.
Scott said they had left two space heaters and the stove on to warm the residence in the area’s recent freezing cold temperatures, but she believes it was an electrical fire.
Killona fire chief Trevell Gordon described it as the biggest fire he’s ever dealt with in his 13 years with the fire department.
Gordon said residents should not leave heaters unattended.
Space heaters have been blamed for so many fires and fire-related deaths in Louisiana that the State Fire Marshal’s Office issued an alert advising residents remain vigilant when using them and other heating sources, as well as recommended maintaining working smoke alarms.
Since December, investigators have responded to more than six residential structure fires that resulted in more than 10 deaths (six in East Baton Rouge Parish since Jan. 1).
Trevell said the cause of the Killona fire has not been determined.
For Veronica Scott, the fire represents the sad loss of the home of 13 years.
While Scott said she isn’t sure when they’ll be able to return to their home address, she remains confident they will find a way to replace the mobile home. They’re staying with her sister until then.
On Friday morning, Valaune sorted through the burnt remains of their home as her mother looked on still stunned over the loss.
But Veronica said, “We’re going to replace it somehow.”