Smoking in bed cause of house fire that killed Port Barre woman
PORT BARRE - The State Fire Marshal’s Office says a Port Barre woman died during a house fire that was started while she was smoking in bed Tuesday morning.
Firefighters from the St. Landry Parish Fire District #2 were dispatched to a residence in the 100 block of Bellanise Road at around 7:30 a.m. after neighbors reported seeing smoke coming from a bedroom window.
When firefighters entered the manufactured home, they found the body of the homeowner, 64-year-old Diane Winchester, with severe burns. Her remains were located in a bedroom on the northeast end of the structure, according to fire investigators.
Winchester’s body was found on the bed and later examined by the State Fire Marshal before it was released to the St. Landry Parish Coroner’s Office for autopsy.
During the course of the investigation, investigators say they learned Winchester suffered from a medical condition that greatly hindered her mobility. Those close to her told investigators that she was a heavy smoker who routinely smoked while she was in bed.
Investigators confirmed unsafe smoking practices as a factor in the house fire when they located smoking materials while searching the bedroom after the fire was extinguished.