A portable space heater placed too close to a bed in a Gretna apartment apparently sparked a fire that killed a 61-year-old man early Tuesday, authorities said.
Calvin Williams apparently died from smoke inhalation, though his body also had severe burns, Jefferson Parish Coroner Dr. Gerry Cvitanovich said.
Tenants in two other units on the property were uninjured but displaced.
The fire, at 1019 Washington Ave., broke out just after midnight, said Deputy Chief Brant Thompson, of the state Fire Marshal’s Office. Firefighters brought it under control relatively quickly, he said, but the unit Williams lived in was extensively damaged by flames.
Investigators later spotted the remains of an electric space heater near combustible bedding in Williams’ room, Thompson said. That’s where the fire is believed to have started.
There were no working smoke alarms on the property, Thompson said.
Williams had a son and a grandchild, according to his cousin, Tyrone Williams. He also had siblings in Mississippi.
He recently spent a few years cutting grass for the city, his cousin said.
“Calvin was just a good person,” Tyrone Williams said. “He was a great person.”
Calvin Williams had been renting his apartment since June 2014 and lived alone, his landlord, Ray Gumpert Sr., said.
The displaced neighbors received vouchers from the local Red Cross chapter to stay at hotels for the next few days.
After several days of record warmth in the New Orleans area, temperatures dipped as low as the 40s on Tuesday after a cold front passed through. Officials urge residents to put space heaters at least 3 feet away from any other object to reduce the risk of fire.