LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Early this morning a house fire on North 1st Avenue claimed one life, while the other three family members were able to escape.
At around 1:00 this morning Jeanella Thomas got a phone call that no person is ever prepared for.
"I got the call, first one to get the call, at around 1:15. Brother Lartigue called and said they couldn't get her out," said Thomas.
Thomas' brother in law's house had caught fire, and in it was Stela Ardoin, who was unable to be rescued.
The fire started towards the back of the house, and as it spread, the family was able to get inside to rescue Stela's son.
"My sister-in-law, she was special, and she also had two children. One that's also mentally retarded, he was in the house also, which they were able to get out of the house," said Thomas.
Due to the severity of the flames and Stela not fully realizing what was occurring, nothing could be done to save her life.
"Stela, with her being mentally retarded, she was not able to walk too well and she was older, somewhere around 42 I think," stated Thomas, "It was just too hard for them to get her out because she wasn't able to walk real good."
It was at the point the family realized they would not be able to save Stela that the emotions and the realization of what had just happened began to set in.
"Everybody was really upset and shocked and emotional. And actually my husband, the police men had to hold him down to keep him from going into the house to try and rescue her," said Thomas.
After the tragic fire this morning, the Lartigues will now turn to friends and family for support and to cherish their memories of Stela.
"She was always a very, very happy person, special, she was so kind and very friendly," said Thomas.
A Benefit Account has been opened at Jeff Davis Bank for the family.