NEW IBERIA, La. (KLFY) – Residents on Andersen St. say it was around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday night when they realized 77-year old Martha Arceneaux was inside her smoke-filled home.
“I said it was right there. The smoke was coming from the roof,” says Arceneaux’s cousin Deanna Kately.
Harold Jones was also one of the first to arrive on the scene.
He was at a friend’s house just a couple doors away.
As a former marine, Jones tried everything he could to break into the home and save Arceneaux.
Jones attempted to break down the front door, smashed a window, removed an air conditioning unit in order to get in.
“Due to the smoke, the fire, as well as the heat I was unsuccessful moving past the living room area,” says Jones.
Kately called 911 several times but after the immense smoke became too dangerous to save her, time ran out.
“Everybody has hollering Ms. Martha… Ms.Martha…but we [were] just too late,” says Kately.
Kately describes the scene as surreal.
“You know you see this on TV but to see it happen live you know even if it wasn’t a relative just to see a person…it’s bad,” says Kately.
Jones wants others to learn from the tragedy.
He says to be extra careful while trying to stay warm this winter.
“I would just encourage everyone to check on family and friends and make sure that everything is intact so we can survive this winter and not have to face what I experienced on last evening,” says Jones.