Livingston Parish, LA, Dad, Two Children Die in Mobile Home Blaze

Feb. 21, 2024
Firefighters from Livingston Parish found the home and vehicles burning.

David Mitchell

The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.


Feb. 20—Sometime time after midnight, Eliaz Diaz was awakened Tuesday to the raging fire inside his next-door neighbor's mobile home northwest of Walker.

After the 50-year-old Diaz got up, he saw that his outside surveillance cameras were filled with red color and so he and others ran outside to find the blaze that would end up killing two children and a man.

"They just came out and saw the whole house under the flame," Joshua Santiago, a 16-year-old neighbor of Diaz's, said in translating for him.

Diaz, who spoke Spanish, said once he got outside, that's when the neighbors started yelling and asking for help.

Livingston Parish firefighters said the fire took the life of a man and two juveniles whom they have not identified publicly.

Diaz and other neighbors identified the trio as a father and his son and daughter, both of whom were younger than 11.

Diaz, who said he had known the family for four years, said the father worked several jobs in construction.

The father and his children were known to the community of Hispanic residents who live in the Denham Place Mobile Home Park where the fire occurred and many of whom are originally from Honduras, as Diaz is.

Firefighters with parish Protection District No. 4 responded shortly before 1 a.m. to reports of a fire at the trailer park off Burgess Road between Denham Springs and Walker.

The firefighters found the mobile home, as well as several nearby vehicles, ablaze, firefighters said.

The surrounding homes were evacuated and crew members entered the burning mobile home to find the bodies of the man and the two youngsters, firefighters said.

James Wascom, fire chief of the sweeping parish District No. 4 that includes Watson, Walker and Port Vincent, said the mobile home was 100% engulfed in fire by the time firefighters arrived.

Diaz said, even when he had gone out before firefighters arrived, the trailer was already so fully on fire, no one could get inside. A video of the fire taken by one resident after firefighters arrived shows a towering, dark smoke cloud rising from the home site.

Wascom said about 20 firefighters took about an hour to get the fires in the home and the vehicles under control.

Firefighters said two mobile homes and four vehicles were damaged or destroyed in the fire.

By Tuesday afternoon, with the fire extinguished, the home was charred heap of twisted metal, hemmed in by a burned out sport utility vehicle and truck parked in front of the home. Diaz's next-door mobile home had significant fire damage on one side.

Standing near the fire-devastated mobile home of his deceased neighbors, Diaz spoke in front of his own damaged trailer home with his wife, Estrella Villanueva, and his teenage son, Arnol Villanueva, beside him.

Diaz said the fire has left him, his family and his neighbors worried and scared because something as serious as this doesn't happen in their neighborhood.

Wascom said firefighters don't know if the home had fire alarms or a fire extinguisher, but, in a statement, the department noted that "the fire had been burning inside the home for an extended period of time prior to 911 notification."

"We want to encourage everyone to check their smoke alarms and ensure they are in proper working order," the department said in a statement.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation with the assistance of Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal, firefighters said.

"Again, it's going take us quite some time to figure out, even if we can figure out, what caused it," Wascom said.


(c)2024 The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.

Visit The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La. at

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.