BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Baton Rouge firefighters were returning to headquarters shortly before 2 p.m. when they happened upon a home that was engulfed in flames.
"At the time when someone was calling it in to dispatch, [firefighters] were passing by," Curt Monte, Baton Rouge Fire Department explained. "They were returning from another call when they came across the vacant structure."
The vacant home located on Fairfields sustained roughly $100,000 worth of damage on Monday, Jan. 6. Investigators believe the home was being used as a "warming station" for people in the neighborhood.
"We believe the structure was not secured properly, so it became accessible to people in the neighborhood," Monte said. "This is something we do see this time of year, especially in times of cold weather. Those who are less fortunate tend to look for shelter. We recommend that they find a shelter or facility that can accommodate them."
Property owners should also take additional precautions when temperatures drop.
"We recommend that if a person owns a vacant structure that they secure it properly to try and prevent things like this from happening," Monte noted.
Firefighters hope everyone takes additional precautions for the cold night ahead with the hope of preventing further damage around the city.
"Use extreme caution when using heating equipment for your home," he said. "Check on your neighbors, especially you're elderly neighbors, don't use your stove to heat your home, and keep heaters 3-feet away from anything combustible."