Firefighters battled a large fire at two Kenner apartment buildings Sunday afternoon.
The buildings, at Alabama Avenue and Vintage Drive, contained a total of 20 apartments. As many as 19 were occupied.
The roofs of both buildings collapsed, but there were no reports of any injuries.
Units from both the Kenner and Jefferson Parish fire departments battled the blaze.
Kenner Fire Department Chief John Hellmers said the fire was initially reported at 2:55 p.m. By the time the first unit arrived at the scene four minutes later, he said, the blaze already had spread to the second building.
There was no immediate word on how the fire began.
Miguel Hernandez, who lived in Apartment 12, said he first thought someone was barbecuing when he and his girlfriend and their roommate got a whiff of something amiss.
“We were eating in the living room when my girlfriend saw the smoke,” Hernandez said.
He looked out the back of his apartment to the building across the alley and saw Apartment 5 was on fire.
He then called 911 and went to his neighbors’ apartments, knocking on their doors to alert them, he said. Some of the residents were asleep, he said.
The property’s owner watched firefighters battle the blaze from the shade of a Kenner Fire Department vehicle parked across Vintage Drive. Asked to comment, she shook her head and began weeping.
Hellmers said the fire was extinguished about 4:40 p.m.
The American Red Cross was at the scene, trying to determine the number of people left homeless.
A Red Cross volunteer said at least 44 people were affected, and that a Kenner code enforcement official at the scene said the two buildings will be condemned.
Hellmers said arson investigators were summoned to the scene, but it was too early to know whether the fire was deliberately set.