House fire claims life in Hillsdale

An 81-year-old woman is believed to have died in a house fire early Sunday on Opal Bennett Road in Hillsdale, according to the state Fire Marshal’s Office.

Firefighters from the Hillsdale Volunteer Fire Department and Tangipahoa Parish Fire District No. 1 were dispatched to 1389 Opal Bennett Road after an off-duty St. Helena sheriff’s deputy contacted emergency services about the fire around 6:20 a.m., a Fire Marshal’s Office news release says.

Firefighters found a single-story home engulfed in flames when they arrived, the release says.

After firefighters put out the blaze, they found the body believed to be that of Rachel McCoy Spears inside the home, the release says.

The St. Helena Parish Coroner’s Office plans to perform an autopsy next week to confirm the identification of the victim, the release says.

Investigators believe the fire began near the bedroom area on the north side of the home, but the cause of the fire has not yet been determined, the release says.

The Fire Marshal’s Office is helping Hillsdale firefighters and St. Helena Parish sheriff’s detectives with the investigation, the release says.

It is unknown whether the home was equipped with smoke alarms.