Fire broke out this morning around 2:00 in an abandoned New Orleans building that was being used as shelter for a group of people. Temperatures overnight were near freezing.
New Orleans Fire Department Chief Charles Parent says a warehouse fire in the Ninth Ward killed eight people and left two others injured.
Parent says the victims were trying to stay warm by burning scrap in a barrel. That barrel apparently spilled over around 1:30 a.m., sparking the two alarm fire in an abandoned warehouse in the 2700 block of N. Prieur.
This appears to be the deadliest fire in New Orleans in over 30 years, when 29 people were killed in a fire at a cocktail lounge in 1973.
A spokesperson tells Eyewitness News’ Jill Hezeau that a group of people had been staying in the building near the intersection of St. Ferdinand and North Prieur in an attempt to stay warm and that two people who survived said they had lit some wood a trash can to try to stay warm.
Parent said the fire department has a program to check abandoned buildings and to close them up and secure them but said the number of them makes it near impossible to guarantee that all are closed up properly.
One of the survivors told Hezeau that she believed most of the victims were in their teens or 20s and that some may have been from out of town, as she was.