A historic home on St. Charles Avenue burned in a massive seven-alarm fire Wednesday morning (Feb. 20), according to theNew Orleans Fire Department. The house at 2525 St. Charles, known as a toasting spot during the Rex parade, is between Second and Third streets.
Three people inside the home, plus an elderly poodle, escaped the fire without injuries, according to the homeowners.
“Unfortunately it is a catastrophic loss,” NOFD Superintendent Timothy McConnell said of the fire, first reported at 7:44 a.m.
McConnell said the fire appears to have started in the home’s basement and quickly spread. The cause of the blaze was not immediately known.
At one point flames shot through a hole in the floor made by a firefighter’s step, McConnell said, and with the risk of collapse possible, firefighters took a “defensive” position, attacking the fire from the exterior. That attack was complicated by the limited space in which firefighters could work. The house is tucked close to an apartment building and surrounded by trees, some of which had to be cut back to give firefighters access to fight the blaze.
The home’s age also presented a challenge. Newer homes are typically built with “fire stops” designed to prevent flames from spreading quickly. This home had no such stops, McConnell said.
“It’s a very unfortunate situation, but once a fire like this gets that far ahead of you it’s really difficult to combat,” he said.
One firefighter was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation. He could be seen receiving oxygen.
By 11:45 a.m. the fire was still not under control. But McConnell told reporters there was no more danger to surrounding buildings.