Investigators say fatal fire began outside home

Firefighters work to extinguish flames that consumed a mobile home on Old Covington Highway in the early morning Wednesday.

The fatal fire on Old Covington Highway Wednesday began outside the mobile home, investigators said, but the victim was inside.

At this time, while the exact cause of the fire remains undetermined, deputies with the State Fire Marshal's Office have not been able to rule out improper discarding of smoking materials as a potential contributing factor, according to Fire Marshal H. "Butch" Browning.

The fire began in the early hours Wednesday in the 17000 block of Old Covington Highway. Browning said Hammond Rural Fire Department responded about 12:30 a.m. and extinguished the blaze. They later found the body of a man inside the mobile home.

While official identification and cause of death are pending with the Tangipahoa Parish Coroner’s Office, the victim is believed to be the 61-year-old tenant of the mobile home. Reportedly, he had just left New Orleans and moved in there.

Deputies assessed the scene and collected witness statement and evidence to determine the fire started outside the home.

“This is an unfortunate loss for this man’s family that we hope other families can learn from,” Browning said. “That starts with recognizing that small, preventative steps like putting out cigarettes in a fire-safe container or ash tray that is located a safe distance from combustible objects can actually mean saving a life.”

He advised people to ensure all smoking materials are completely extinguished, appropriately discard the contents of ash trays after a cool down period and keep all smoke materials out of the reach of children.

The fire marshal thanked the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Hammond Fire Prevention Bureau for their help with this investigation.

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