Investigators release initial findings into fire that killed toddler

Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Investigators have released new details into the deadly fire Tuesday night at the Cedarwood Apartments. Five-year-old, Treasure Garner, did not make it out, and now investigators know how the tragic fire may have started.

Pieces of a bike, charred clothes, and what's left of unit 1108 are some of the heartbreaking images at the site of Tuesday night's fatal fire at the Cedarwood Apartments. "Within five to six minutes, the first engine companies arrived on scene. The middle of the structure was completely engulfed in flames," said Curt Monte, public information officer for the Baton Rouge Fire Department.

According to the Louisiana State Fire Marshal's Office and BRFD, the flames originated in one apartment, but quickly engulfed several others.

"In all, we actually think there were about ten units damaged by fire and probably somewhere between six to eight more with smoke and water damage," Monte added.

Chief Deputy for the State Fire Marshal's Office, Brant Thompson, says it's still early in the investigation, but initial indications show an 18-year-old girl left a pot of grease heating on the stove. "At some point, she left the unit and she indicated to us that she had gone to dispose of some garbage," he said.

Thompson also said it's unclear how long the teen was gone from the townhouse, but when she came back, she was forced out of the burning apartment.

"She was immediately met with heavy smoke and attempted to gain entry with the understanding that her young sibling was likely still in the upstairs bedroom," Thompson said.

Officials say the teen called for help from neighbors, but intense smoke and flames prevented them from reaching her little sister, Treasure Garner, who was later found unresponsive in a second floor bedroom. A memorial for the 5-year-old now sits just feet away from the burned apartment.

Thompson said the complex requires smoke alarms. They could be heard going off Tuesday night during the fire. Meanwhile BRFD says people should be even more cautious, with a smoke alarm in every room as well as having a practiced family exit plan.

"We actually recommend that you set them off to test the alarm and allow your entire family to hear that alarm, to recognize it immediately what that alarm is and practice your escape plan. Know two ways out of every room and have a meeting place," said Monte.

Investigators say the fire is still under investigation. The exact cause is still undetermined at this time.

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