ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH, La. (WGNO) — A house fire in Mt. Airy claimed the lives of a woman and two children on Wednesday, Sept. 13.
According to the State Fire Marshal’s Office, parish deputies responded to the scene around 4:00 a.m. in the 100 block of Marigold Street.
A tight-knit community in Mt. Airy is mourning the loss of 38-year-old Quintella Chopin and her two children, J’irmani Edwards, 7, and Therrill Edwards Jr., 2.
Officials say a driver noticed the flames and rushed to alert the people inside the home.
St. John the Baptist Parish Fire Chief of Operations Cain Dufrene said it took some time before they could locate the victims.
“You hate to go to fire, especially when the loss of life is children. Whenever we know there is life inside, we kind of quickly knock down the fire to stop it from spreading any further than what it was. Then quickly try to control the scene and make entry into the building,” says Dufrene.
Chopin’s sister-in-law, Trevor Edwards, who was also inside the home, says the memory of trying to save her family members is something she’ll never forget.
“The smoke was rising already in the back, so we came from under the carport area to try to get them to wake up. We tried everything. I screamed, but everything was just dropping at that point because it had already taken over the house,” says Edwards.
Chopin was found in a bathroom, her 7-year-old daughter in a bedroom and the toddler was at the top of the stairs.
Edwards describes them each as one of a kind.
“Hard working, she wanted the best for her kids. Very humble. Jirmani straight a student, full of life. Wednesday was her birthday. TJ is full of life, and a lot of personality. Very smart good kid,” says Edwards.
As she speaks on behalf of her family, Edwards says all of this is extremely hard to comprehend. Edwards explains they’re still processing the recent deaths of other relatives, one just last week.
“You can know someone is going to pass away but you are still going to grieve. This is a grieving process. I may not be crying right now but trust me I got a thousand things running through my head. When the curtains close, when I go back behind the doors, that’s going to be my time to process what’s going on,” says Edwards.
The state fire marshal says that the scene is still an active investigation. However, so far, they haven’t come across a smoke detector.