FRANKLINTON, La. (WVUE) - A fire destroyed a Franklinton home and left two children dead early Wednesday (March 27), according to the Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s Office.
Investigators spent most of the day at the charred mobile home in the 45000 block of Beau Drive, where flames broke out around 12:35 a.m., state Fire Marshal Butch Browning said.
Firefighters arriving at the scene found two adults and three children outside of the home. The family told firefighters there were two children that were unaccounted for -- a 10-year-old girl and a 6-year-old boy. Their bodies were later found in separate bedrooms.
Officials said the three children that were able to escape the fire were airlifted to Baton Rouge-area hospitals. As of Wednesday afternoon, a 4-year-old girl is listed in critical condition, a 6-year-old is in the pediatric ICU and a 3-year-old boy is listed in stable condition. The two adults -- a male and a female -- were not treated for any injuries.
Both adults and three of the children lived in the home, investigators said, including the 10-year-old girl who did not survive. The deceased 6-year-old boy was one of two cousins visiting the family.
Witnesses told firefighters that the 3-year-old alerted the man to the fire. He grabbed the toddler and escaped from the home through a window. The woman attempted to rescue the other children but was pulled from the home by a neighbor. The man then went back in the front of the home to rescue two of the children, but was unable to get to the remaining two.
Franklinton resident Bruce Graves said a man who lives next door to the fire smelled smoke and rushed over to help.
“When he got there, the guy was trying to get out of the window and he helped him out the window," Graves said. "I guess he told him that the children were still inside and they tried to get back in the trailer, but the heat and the smoke was just too much so they couldn’t get back in.”
Fire officials said they believe the fire began inside a bedroom in the middle of the home, which is where the body of the 6-year-old boy was found.
The loss has left residents like Graves stunned.
“It’s a horrible thing to happen but you never know," Graves said. “This is so tragic. As much as we react to things in this world. We better react to this because it’s real."
Browning said the man suffered smoke inhalation and the woman was unharmed. The Franklinton volunteer fire department responded to the fire, but because the home is in a rural area, fighting the flames became tough.
“In rural areas, the mode of operation is bring your own water. They don’t have fire hydrants like you have in populated communities," Browning said.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation, but the Fire Marshal said investigators do not suspect any suspicious activity.
Browning said smoke alarms were inside of home but investigators believe they were not working when the fire broke out, which Browning said is essential.
“If you go to bed tonight and you don’t know that you have a working smoke alarms or if you didn’t practice and escape plan thing you’re putting your family in unnecessary danger,” Browning said.