Investigation continues into the cause of a fire that claimed the lives of an elderly couple in St. Landry Parish.
The wood frame home belonging to 72-year-old Willis Amos Semien and his wife, 66-year-old Lou Anna was left in ashes after the March 3rd fire. Officials said the cause could have been a faulty air conditioning window unit.
“There was a heating and cooling window unit located in our area of origin that according to witness statements was inoperable at the time of the fire. However, we were able to determine that the unit was in fact energized with the electricity,” said Deputy Chief Brant Thompson, State Fire Marshal's Office.
Still in the investigation stage, Thompson said nothing is being ruled out. Meanwhile, he painted a mental picture of the Semien's final moments. Their 11-year-old granddaughter discovered fire on the back of the couch in the living room and immediately alerted family members of the quickly spreading blaze. Three people, including the granddaughter, a 19-year-old daughter and a 14-year-old foster child escaped through a bedroom window; but not before trying to save Lou Anna.
“They attempted to assist Mrs. Semien in evacuating the home, she fell to the floor during that attempt. They were unable to evacuate her as conditions continued to worsen”, said Thompson.
Lou Anna's limited mobility prevented anyone, including her husband Willis from helping her escape. Officials believe Willis may have remained behind in an attempt to extinguish the fire, as his wife could not exit the burning home fast enough.
The children last saw Willis in the kitchen, getting water, in a possible attempt to put out the blaze. His body was found in a spare room.
News Ten contacted family members who chose not to comment at this time.