A New Iberia man is dead after he succumbed to fumes when a smoldering fire started in the camper he was in Saturday morning.
Firefighters were dispatched around 8:30 a.m. to the 1700 block of Juanita Street after Acadian Ambulance and the New Iberia Police Department had already been called to the scene.
According to New Iberia City Fire Department Chief Gordon Coppell, the fire was not a blaze, but still put out fumes and smoke that were deadly to the occupant of the camper.
“We were called out after Acadian and the police had already found the gentleman deceased,” Coppell said. “The trailer hardly had any damage. The fire put out smoke and fumes that left him confused so he was unable to escape.”
Because the fire involved a fatality, the Office of the State Fire Marshal is handling the investigation. According to a press release, investigators are focusing their attention on a water pump that may have overheated and caught fire, causing the fatal fire.
The fatality is one of four statewide reported Saturday. In addition to the death in New Iberia, a cooking-related death was under investigation in Shreveport and a double fatality in Marksville is being attributed to the use of a generator indoors.
Additionally, Coppell said that the cold weather usually brings an increase in fires because people are trying to heat their homes using unsafe methods.
“This time of year a lot of fireplaces are lit,” Coppell said. “A lot of fires start because people are using appliances incorrectly to heat their homes.”
He said that every home should have a smoke detector installed to warn residents when gasses accumulate in a space, even if flames are not visible.
“Be safe, get a smoke detector,” Coppell said. “They are cheap. If you can’t afford one, call the City of New Iberia Fire Department and we will make a list of names for those people who are in need and distribute detectors to them when we make another order.”