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Fire Destroys Bay St. Louis FEMA Trailer in Seconds

By Keith Burton    Filed 6/5/06
Photos by Jesse Beck (Special to GCN)

Bay St. Louis firemen were called to a fire at a small FEMA travel trailer Sunday evening. The fire destroyed the trailer, a home to a resident at the corner of Seventh Street and Turner Street.

Fire Chief Bob Gavagnie said they received the call at 7:29 p.m. and were on the scene in a fast three minutes, but not in time to save the trailer. The trailer's occupants were not at home at the time of the fire.

Neighbors say they heard the sound of a small boom and within seconds, a choking black smoke billowed from the trailer. The fire burned more than 50 percent of trailer.

Gavagnie told GCN that fire investigators with the state and FEMA, as well as his officers, are at the site today trying to determine the cause of the fire. Gavagnie says people need to be aware that any fire in a small trailer is much more dangerous than with a typical home. The materials in trailers and their small size accelerate the speed in which a fire can spread.

"If the trailer's smoke alarm goes off, trailer residents should leave the trailer immediately and call the fire department from a neighbor home. You should not stay inside to make a phone call," Gavagnie said.

With more than 35,000 FEMA travel trailers on Coast since Hurricane Katrina, the temporary homes of more than 100,000 residents, the risk of fire and injury should be carefully considered by residents who should have a plan of action if a fire occurs.

Most of the trailers have propane-fueled stoves. And while travel trailers are suitable for typically intermittent use, their use as long term housing for which they were not designed means residents need to be cautious and report any maintenance issues to FEMA.

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