PONCHATOULA, LA — A woman died over the weekend in an early morning fire at her home in Ponchatoula. Investigators say that although her home was equipped with smoke detectors, none had batteries in them.
The incident happened on Saturday, Oct. 27 at roughly 3:00 a.m. Firefighters from the Ponchatoula Fire Department responded to a mobile home fire on Katina Road, which resulted in the death of Annette Athmann, 59.
Upon extinguishing the blaze, first responders discovered the remains of Athmann located in her bedroom where the fire was determined to have originated. Further investigation by the State Fire Marshal’s Office, Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office, and the Ponchatoula Fire Department revealed the suspected cause of the fire to be unsafe smoking practices. While the investigation remains ongoing, no evidence of arson or criminal activity has been found at the scene.
An additional resident of the home, Earl Grillot, 57, was able to escape the fire and was not injured. The Tangipahoa Parish Coroner’s Office has scheduled an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death for the deceased resident and positively identify the remains to be Athmann.
Investigators determined the mobile home was equipped with smoke alarms; however, the batteries had been removed prior to the fire. State Fire Marshal H. “Butch” Browning stated, “This loss of life may have been avoided had there been working smoke alarms in the home.” He further encouraged all of Louisiana’s residents to take the time to install and maintain these life saving devices.