BR fire death ruled a homicide

The case of a 72-year-old woman killed in a mysterious house fire in late July has been ruled a homicide, but Baton Rouge arson investigators said they are still unsure what caused the blaze.

East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Dr. Beau Clark said he classified Doris Antwine’s death a homicide after authorities concluded the fire was incendiary and started by an unknown person.

Fire Department spokesman Curt Monte stressed Monday that investigators have not yet determined whether the fire was intentionally set.

“They know it’s incendiary, which means the fire had some sort of human influence or a person’s influence to be started,” he said. “It wasn’t an electrical issue or anything like that. Our investigators have to turn over every stone to make sure of what exactly caused that fire.”

The fire has perplexed investigators for more than a month. Firefighters were called out at 3 a.m. July 28 to Antwine’s home on North 49th Street, which had been fully engulfed in flames.

Antwine lived alone at the house, authorities have said, and her body was found amid the home’s charred wooden beams and mangled furniture.

Clark has said Antwine died of carbon monoxide poisoning from inhaling smoke and soot.

The fire was reported by Donald Wilson Jr., a man who lives across the street.

Another neighbor, Bridget Brady, who lives in the house behind Antwine’s, reported hearing a boom that she likened to someone firing a shotgun.

Brady said that sound was followed by successive booms about 10 seconds apart.

“I looked out my bedroom window and all I saw was smoke,” she said after the fire. “I was just hoping to God that she wasn’t in there.”