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5 dead in New Orleans house fire

SHARE 5 dead in New Orleans house fire

NEW ORLEANS — A grandmother, three grandchildren and the children's mother died early Tuesday in a house fire, New Orleans firefighters said.

Fire Chief Timothy McConnell said the fire was reported around 12:15 a.m. Tuesday at the yellow, two-story home in the city's Broadmoor neighborhood.

McConnell said first responders on the scene found the house engulfed in flames.

He said the children's father, Derrick Anderson, tried to re-enter the house to rescue the family, but the flames blocked his way. He was not injured.

Firefighters said Anderson identified himself as the mother's boyfriend and said the house did not have smoke detectors.

Officials identified the victims as Martha Anderson, 77, and her grandchildren, Jade Anderson, 12; Jason Anderson, 11; and Jayla Anderson, 7. The mother was identified as 33-year-old Christina Squire.

Outside the charred house, Derrick Anderson's brother, 51-year-old Frederick Anderson, said he lost his mother, two nieces and a nephew.

Frederick Anderson said he lived in the house but was away at the time of the fire. He arrived to find investigators at the scene. "I saw the ambulance here. And it was pretty much a done deal."

McConnell said the grandmother's body was found in a first-floor bedroom and the mother and children were found in a second-floor bedroom.

Fire Department spokesman Michael Williams said it appears the fire started on the first floor in the rear of the home. Williams said it took firefighters about an hour and a half to bring the fire under control.

The fire gutted much of the corner-lot house near the Andrew H. Wilson Charter School where McConnell said the three children attended school.

David Winkler-Schmit, president of the association that runs the school, said the school community was in shock.

"The staff, the principal are just crushed," Winkler-Schmit said as he stood outside the school building. "The family has live in the Broadmoor neighborhood for over 40 years. The dad went to Wilson. The kids went to Wilson. They were good kids."

Broadmoor is a racially, mixed working-class area that was hit hard by flooding from Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. It has recovered, but signs of post-storm blight remain. One nearby house is shuttered, its roof collapsing.

Investigators with the state fire marshal's office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are assisting in the investigation, but firefighters said the cause did not appear to be of suspicious origin.