It took the New Orleans Fire Department nearly two hours to bring the fire under control.
NEW ORLEANS — A group of people who lived in a Central City double gathered outside the place they had called home. It had been destroyed by a fire hours earlier.
Early Tuesday morning, flames ripped through the building in a massive four-alarm fire that damaged or destroyed three homes in the 1700 block of First Street.
“Just get out, get out, run as fast as you can,” nursing student Olivia Houston said. “You don’t have time to grab anything, so whatever you have on hand, is what you’ve got and the dogs, obviously, just get out of there.”
Houston said the roof of her upstairs apartment collapsed about ten minutes after she and her roommate escaped the flames.
“The smoke detectors didn’t even go off just yet and she was the one knocking on my door and when I grabbed a handle it was like really hot. I knew it was bad.”
According to the New Orleans Fire Department, two dozen fire trucks carrying nearly 70 firefighters battled the massive blaze that lit up the predawn sky.
It took nearly two hours to bring the fire under control.
“Homes are so close together, so that’s a challenge for us when the homes are so close together with that amount of heat,” NOFD spokesman Greg Davis said. “All the old wooden houses, especially in the older neighborhoods, they go up pretty fast.”
The exact cause of the fire is under investigation. But NOFD confirmed the point of origin was a blighted, unoccupied building and the flames quickly spread to neighboring homes.
“The blighted properties, it’s not the properties themselves,” Davis said. “It’s just the people going on the properties and doing things they probably shouldn’t be doing and it’s causing fires.”
Neighbors said they’ve recently seen people in the vacant house.
“I definitely knew that some people were going in and out of there,” Houston said. “I’m not exactly sure who. But there’s no doubt they probably started a fire there.”
Houston said she lost most of her belongings in the fire.
“I’m upset, obviously, very upset, very shaken, but right now I’m just thankful to be out of the house and I’m thankful to be with my friends.”
There were no injuries reported.