NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — An early morning fire spread through the recently-vacated Oakmont Apartments early Thursday (Nov. 17) morning, the New Orleans Fire Department said.
According to a statement from the NOFD, emergency responders arrived at the scene, located in the 2200 block of Westbend Parkway, shortly after 1 a.m. That’s where they found two sections of apartments fully engulfed in flames with embers quickly spreading to other buildings. We’re told a second and third alarm were called in shortly after fire crews arrived.
Several people were rescued from inside the structure during the fire, unable to navigate their way out of thick clouds of smoke. The two sections of apartments collapsed soon after, but not before spreading to four other buildings. A fourth alarm was called in around 2 a.m.
Photos from NOFD Chief C. Mickal show damage from the fire, including the several buildings engulfed in the blaze and collapsed stair framing that once led residents to different stories.
We’re told firefighters remained on the scene late Thursday morning to bring the fire under control. It remains unclear how the fire started.
Earlier this year, it was reported that Oakmont Apartments, along with other properties Cypress Park, Forest Park, Liberty Park, and Washington Place apartments, were all in foreclosure after their parent companies filed for bankruptcy.
“The issues are lack of repairs, mold, just recently, we’ve gotten to where we’ve gotten dumpsters for our trash,” a tenant told WGNO in an interview back in February. “It’s a real mess.”
In May, the City of New Orleans paid to move tenants from the neglected property to a hotel in New Orleans East. Despite no formal tenants still living in the building, it’s believed that some of the people still at the property when the fire erupted may have been homeless.
No injuries were reported during the blaze. The fire is under investigation by local and state authorities.