Coroner positively identifies 2 men killed in house fire

Aftermath of Hollywood Street house fire (Source: WAFB)
Aftermath of Hollywood Street house fire (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Two elderly men are dead after a huge house fire in Baton Rouge the night of May 4.

The East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner's Office positively identified the victims as Richard Burke, known as by neighbors as "Mr. Joe," 75, and Kerold Cole, 64.

Coroner Dr. William "Beau" Clark said both men died from smoke inhalation and their deaths have been ruled an accident.

The Baton Rouge Fire Department reported they were called to a house fire on Hollywood Street near I-110 just before 11 p.m.

Mark Miles with BRFD said more than half of the house was burning when firemen arrived on the scene. He added the home is a total loss.

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The home belonged to Burke. According to neighbors, "Mr. Joe" and Cole were good friends and spent a lot of time together. Neighbors added the home had no electricity, water, or gas for the past several years.

"They made their way," said Rev. Robert Joseph, pastor of King's Children Full Gospel Church. "They took care of themselves and took care of others around them. You know, just loving people."

Neighbors said "Mr. Joe" could always be seen walking around the neighborhood and he loved to collect aluminum cans. They added he jokingly called himself a "recycling engineer."

"He goes to the library every day. He goes to Krispy Kreme every day. He's just got a total regimen around this area," Joseph added.

Neighbors and the church took care of the men, often taking food and supplies to them.

The Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal was called in to assist with the investigation.

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