Update: The decedent involved in the fire on Juanita St. on 2/20/21 is identified as 81 y/o Leonce Romero, Jr.
IBERIA PARISH- State Fire Marshal (SFM) deputies have concluded their investigation into a camper trailer fire that claimed the life of a Sunset man.
Shortly after 8 a.m. on February 20, the New Iberia Fire Department responded to a call for a camper trailer fire located in the 1700 block of Juanita Street. A relative discovered the victim and remnants of a fire when bringing the occupant breakfast.
While official identification and cause of death are pending an autopsy, the victim is believed to be the 81-year-old camper owner who had traveled from his property in Sunset to the relative’s property in New Iberia due to the winter weather threat across the state.
After an assessment of the scene, deputies determined the fire originated in the camper’s water pump compartment. The cause of the fire has been determined as an electrical malfunction of the camper’s water pump that led to the pump overheating and catching fire, which resulted in smoke spreading throughout the camper. It is believed that despite the fire self-extinguishing, the man was overcome by the smoke while he was sleeping, resulting in his death.
Deputies were able to locate a smoke alarm in the camper, but it did not activate. The SFM would like to stress that it is just as important to conduct monthly tests on your smoke alarms, to ensure they are working appropriately, as it is to have at least one smoke alarm present in your home.
The SFM’s Operation Save-A-Life program partners with local fire departments and districts to provide FREE smoke alarm installations, at any time of the year, for families in need of assistance accessing the critical emergency-alert equipment. To register for a free smoke alarm, or learn more about Operation Save-A-Life, visit lasfm.org.