Christmas Fire Claims Three Lives In Homer, Lousiana

Investigators in Claiborne Parish are trying to determine what set off pre-dawn explosions and a fire Christmas morning that claimed the lives of three people who may have run back into their burning home to save pets and personal belongings.


HOMER, La. (AP) -- Investigators in Claiborne Parish are trying to determine what set off pre-dawn explosions and a fire Christmas morning that claimed the lives of three people who may have run back into their burning home to save pets and personal belongings.

Logger and wood processor Perry A. Hammontree, 61; his daughter Melissa, who would have turned 25 Sunday; and her husband, Michael Robinson, 27, died in the fire that destroyed their single-story, wood-frame house.

Firefighters got the call at 4:05 a.m. Saturday and arrived to find five people who had survived, Homer Fire Chief Dennis Butcher said.

``It's unclear exactly what happened, but the three who perished got out and then went back in, after pets or personal belongings,'' Butcher said.

The ages of the two surviving adults were unavailable; the children are a 6-year-old boy and two girls, ages 4 and 9, Butcher said.

The cause of the fire remained under investigation but Butcher says investigators are looking into the possibility that an unattended outdoor cooking fire may have started the blaze. He said there was equipment outside that could have caused explosions if ignited and the fire may have spread to the home afterward.