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Three Killed in South Louisiana Apartment Fire

A fire that killed three people and injured a fourth early Tuesday is being investigated as suspicious, according to Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office spokesman Cmdr. John Fortunato.
Metairie -- (WVUE) A fire that killed three people and injured a fourth early Tuesday is being investigated as suspicious, according to Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office spokesman Cmdr. John Fortunato.

The fire broke out just before 3 a.m. at an apartment complex in the 2300 block of Harvard Avenue and was confined to one unit, officials said. It was under control by 3:09 a.m.

Fortunato said a preliminary investigation by homicide detectives showed the three bodies inside the apartment were that of a white female believed to be in her early 40s, a white male in his early 30s and another white male in his late 50s. The surviving male victim is a 44-year-old black male, who owns the apartment.

Fortunato said the apartment owner woke up and was told there was smoke and fire at the front door and in the staircase of the apartment. When he and the others realized the exit was blocked, the four victims went into a second-floor bedroom. The surviving victim jumped out of the window, thinking the others would follow, Fortunato said. However, they never made it out.

Fortunato said the fire is being investigated as a possible arson.

Three neighboring apartments sustained smoke and water damage, but the residents were able to get out thanks to smoke detectors that alerted them to the fire.

One neighbor said he gave food to the victims on a regular basis.

"I used to, at least three times a week, feed them, because I have a friend that lives in an apartment that would give me meals to give to them," said Rumney Powell. "Actually one of the guys - the one who jumped out the window - day before yesterday I gave him, like, 24 canned goods. They just, you know, they seemed like they were on some type of fixed income."

Nine fire units with 44 personnel responded. Officials with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office and the state Fire Marshal were also on scene.
A K-9 unit is trying to determine if accelerants were used and the area is being treated as a crime scene, which is standard procedure.

"It's a very sad situation," said State Fire Marshal Butch Browning. "Three people perished this morning from the fire. We take this very seriously. We're going to work very closely with local partners - Jefferson Parish Fire Department, the Sheriff's Office - to try to determine what happened. Right now it's really preliminary. We're reconstructing the fire scene."
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