Family of seven survives fire that destroys duplex

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A Baton Rouge couple and their five children are safe and are thankful they survived a fire that destroyed their home early Wednesday morning. The father was at work when the fire started and the mother jumped into action to get her children out of the house.

The fire sparked at a duplex in the 700 block of Holt Drive in Baton Rouge shortly after 3 a.m. Holt is off Goodwood Boulevard near its intersection with South Flannery Road.

The Baton Rouge Fire Department said the cause of the fire remains under investigation, but foul play is not suspected. Officials said it is believed the fire started in the attic above the two units.

Quick thinking by Sheron Mitchell Gentris helped her and her kids get out before firefighters arrived.

"I just wanted to get out of there," Gentris said. I knew it was smoke. They couldn't breathe. They were coughing and I was just thinking about getting my kids out of there and to safety. That's all I was worried about."

Firefighters said the roof was fully engulfed in flames when they arrived on the scene. The duplex is considered a total loss. The fire caused about $250,000 worth of damage.

Firemen said the blaze was under control by just after 4 a.m. One firefighter cut his hand on broken glass. The injury is considered minor.

"They work hard, you can tell the mom takes very good care of the kids. She's a stay at home mom. The dad works real a plant, they're just your typical every day family that unfortunately this situation happened and they lost everything," said landlord Amie Rabel.

Rabel owns the building and says this family has touched her heart unlike any tenants she's ever had.

The Red Cross gave them a hotel for three days and Rabel is working to find them another duplex.

"I'm going to actually give them next month's rent for free, to try and help them catch up, but unfortunately I cannot replace their stuff. They did not have renters insurance," said Rabel.

Rabel is asking the community to step up as well. "Anything helps because it would be like you waking up in the morning and having nothing."

The American Red Cross was called out to assist the victims. All of the kids are girls. The family is staying at the Magnuson Hotel, which is located at 9999 Gwenadelle Drive (Airline @ I-12). They lost everything they owned. Donations can be taken there for them. Below is a list of their sizes:

Women's 14 pants - L top

Men's - L shirt and 36 or 38 pants

12 - 16 pants L shirt (juniors)

10 - 14 pants XL shirt (girls)

7 - 12 pants L shirt (girls)

2 - 2T

8m - 24m

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