Pineville man, teen girl die in house fire

A Pineville man and a teenager died in a house fire on March 18 in the 500 block of Grant Street.
Published: Mar. 20, 2023 at 2:57 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 20, 2023 at 8:44 PM CDT
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PINEVILLE, La. (KALB) - A Pineville man and a teenager died in a house fire on March 18 in the 500 block of Grant Street.

According to the State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFM), the Pineville Fire Department responded to the fire around 2:30 a.m. on Saturday. Firefighters found four people outside of the home who said two more were still inside. The two victims’ bodies were later found in the stairwell and living room areas, which were below a second-floor bedroom that had collapsed into the living room.

A GoFundMe recently created appears to identify the victims as Booker T. Gray, 57, and Serenity Sullivan, 16.

There were six people in the home at the time of the fire, including a grandmother and her brother, her two adult sons and two grandchildren (a 16-year-old girl and a 5-month-old boy).

SFM deputies learned that everyone inside the home was sleeping except for one person who returned home late after work. He said he saw the front porch was on fire several minutes after coming back inside from smoking a cigarette. He said he woke up his brother who was sleeping in the living room. They tried to put out the fire with water. He then went upstairs to wake up the rest of his family. His mother and the two children were all sleeping in the same room. He helped his mother out of a second-story bathroom window and dropped the baby to his brother below, who safely caught the child. Once he escaped the second-story window, the family realized the teenager and the grandmother’s brother were still inside.

Deputies believe the fire started on the front porch and was an accident related to smoking near combustible materials. The family admitted they were using the home’s oven to warm the house. SFM said that although the oven was not the source of the fire, it is dangerous to use an oven to heat a home.

Here is a list of tips from SFM:

  • Place space heaters 3-5 feet from combustible objects like blankets and curtains
  • Plug all heating appliances directly into wall outlets, not power strips or extension cords
  • Do not use stoves, ovens, or grills to heat homes
  • Don’t overfill fireplaces/wood-burning stoves
  • Do not leave candles/open flames (or space heaters) left unattended

SFM also advises smoking outdoors and ensuring smoking materials are fully extinguished and discarded in appropriate containers.

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