One week, 20 fires across South Louisiana - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

One week, 20 fires across South Louisiana

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(Source: Erica Bivens/KPLC) (Source: Erica Bivens/KPLC)
(Source: Erica Bivens/KPLC) (Source: Erica Bivens/KPLC)

The American Red Cross says that in less than a week, they've provided assistance to nearly 100 people after 20 fires struck homes across South Louisiana.

Fire officials say they usually see an increase in the number of fires this time of year, and 5 of those fires took place right here in SWLA.

Firefighters of engine 4 in Lake Charles responded to a structural fire call at 2701 Ernest Street around 10:15 on Saturday morning. Fire Prevention Chief Wayne Rigmaiden says the call ended up being a false alarm.

"Usually during this time, we see different types of fires. That's added with heating problems, heating elements and stuff like that," said Rigmaiden.

The most common type of fire they see?

"Space heaters. Most the times people putting things too close to the space heater. You need to keep things at least three feet away from those. Sometimes also people not getting their heating furnace and unit cleaned out and so fires from that from the lint build up, and even trying to heat your home with an oven, we don't suggest that you do that," explained Rigmaiden.

In the past week, Rigmaiden says they've responded to about six or seven fires in the city.

But one organization people might not immediately associate with fires is the American Red Cross.

"Normally people think of the Red Cross when you think of floods and hurricanes, but our role is to provide assistance to families in need no matter what the disaster is, and that also includes a lot of fires," explained American Red Cross SWLA Board Chair Brian Burton.

In the past week, Burton says they assisted with five fires.

"One in Iowa, one in Moss Bluff, and three here in Lake Charles. Five fires, five families, 19 people, 8 children," explained Burton.

And the Red Cross also works with firefighters. Together, they hope people will follow these fire prevention tips:

Don't leave the stove unattended

Keep things away from heating sources

Throw away dead Christmas trees

Have a working smoke detector


"If you don't have working smoke detectors you're not giving yourself half a chance," said Rigmaiden.


The Red Cross offers these fire prevention tips:

Holiday Entertaining 

Test your smoke alarms.

Check food regularly while cooking and remain in the home while cooking. Use a timer as a reminder that the stove or oven is on.

Enforce a "kid-free zone" in the cooking area and make children stay at least three feet away from the stove.

Keep anything that can catch fire away from the stove, oven or any appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.

Holiday Decorating 

Keep live trees as moist as possible by giving them plenty of water. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly.

Always unplug tree and holiday lights before leaving home or going to bed.

Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections.

Connect no more than three strands of mini light sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs. Read manufacturer's instructions for the number of LED strands to connect.

Holiday Heating 

Portable heaters and fireplaces should never be left unattended. Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to be or leaving the home.

If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as a ceramic tile floor), not on rugs or carpets or near bedding or drapes.

Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.


To donate to the American Red Cross, visit, or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.

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