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Louisiana Man Killed in Fire

Louisiana Man Killed in Fire

A 62-year-old man died Friday morning after Pointe Coupee firefighters were unable to rescue him from a blaze that destroyed the victim’s second-floor apartment and a portion of a business located on the first floor.

The intensity of the blaze prevented firefighters from getting to Leonard V. Dimechele, who was found lying on the floor about 15 feet from the front door of his apartment at 148 East Main St., said Brant Thompson, deputy chief with the State Fire Marshal’s Office.

Preliminary findings from his autopsy show indicate Dimichele died of smoke inhalation and burns, Thompson said.

“There was no working smoke alarm in this unit,” Thompson said. “If there had been, I think we would have had a different outcome.”

He said Dimichele had lived in the apartment for five years. He rented the unit from Charles Parolli, a local businessman Thompson said ran a real estate/accounting-type business on the first floor.

Thompson said the fire originated in the man’s kitchen. Fire investigators suspect it was caused by faulty electrical wiring from small appliances that were plugged into an island kitchen countertop, he said.

In a news release Friday afternoon, the State Fire Marshal’s Office stressed the importance of installing smoke detectors in homes and urged those who do have them to conduct frequent testing to ensure they are working properly.

Those residents needing assistance in the purchase or installation of smoke alarms are encouraged to visit the state fire marshal’s website at www.lasfm.org for information on how to obtain these life saving devices free of charge, the news release said.

This tragic fire begs several important legal questions. Who, landlord or tenant, is responsible to install fire detection and alarm equipment in a rental unit? Do those responsibilities change with a long term tenant? Who is responsible for the apparently defective small appliance? Does it depend on the nature of the defect? And, most critically, was the small appliance actually the cause of this tragic blaze?

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