State fire investigators suspect a wood burning stove triggered a fatal fire Saturday night that destroyed a wood-framed camp on the Ponchatoula River, killing a 57-year-old man and badly burning a woman.
Elizabeth P. Piner, 54, awoke in the camp’s bedroom to find flames burning near a wood stove and smoke filling the camp, said Deputy Chief Brant Thompson, of the state Fire Marshal’s Office.
Piner suffered burns searching for Joel Hall, of Ponchatoula, who also was staying at the camp, but was unable to locate him, Thompson said.
Around 11 p.m., Piner left the camp and drove a boat to a neighboring camp to call for help, Thompson said.
Firefighters arrived at the camp — which is accessible only by boat — and began using river water to fight the flames, which ultimately destroyed the small wood-framed structure, Thompson said.
Inside, firefighters found a body, believed to be Hall’s, in the camp’s living room and kitchen area, Thompson said. An autopsy has not yet been performed.
Piner, who suffered smoke inhalation and second-degree burns to her hands and forearms and lesser burns to her face and head, was airlifted to Baton Rouge General Medical Center, Thompson said.
Thompson said fire investigators determined the blaze, which is believed to be accidental, broke out near the wood-burning stove, the sole source of heat for the structure.
The camp was not connected to electric power and a generator used for lighting is not believed to have been on at the time of the fire, Thompson said.