Apartment fire victim: ‘I lost everything’

Electrical panel malfunction sparks apartment fire, investigators say

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Imagine for a moment your entire life is covered in soot and ash. For Shalonda Herring, there’s no snapping back to reality; what you see is what you get.

“I know this is material stuff you can get back, but it’s like I’ve been losing my whole life. Never a bright day nowhere,” the fire victim said.

Herring’s worst nightmare began after 10 a.m. Wednesday morning when her home at the Serenity Apartments located on S Ardenwood Drive in Baton Rouge went up in flames. It all started while she was trying to take a nap and the breaker box in her bedroom tripped.

“I cut it back on. As soon as I left out that room, it went back off, so I went back in the third time and cut it back on again,” she explained.

The third time around to the breaker is when things got scary.

“The fire was coming out the door,” Herring recalled. “I tried to put the fire out and was trying to save some stuff, but the fire got too big.”

Herring eventually ran out of the apartment with only the clothes on her back and to make matters worse, she claims it could have been avoided.

She says just over a week ago, she put in a work order to the apartment complex to report the problems with the breaker box. Herrings says she assumed a maintenance worker from the complex would have addressed her issues that same day since it was an electrical issue.

“You would think they would get on their job and do what they’re supposed to do. It didn’t happen,” she said. “Now I’m stuck with nothing.”

(Shalonda Herring)
(Shalonda Herring)
(Shalonda Herring)

The Baton Rouge Fire Department was able to contain the fire to the closet, but that didn’t stop the heavy smoke from ruining just about everything in sight.

The cause, according to fire officials, was a malfunction in the electrical panel.

“Something needs to be done. I don’t have anything,” Herrings said. “I lost everything. What am I going to do? Where will I stay?”

Right now, Herring is just counting her blessings and trying to figure out how to rebuild her life.

We reached out to managers of the complex. They declined to confirm having received a work order for the breaker.

The American Red Cross was contacted to assist the victim.

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