Overgrown driveway hampers response to Covington house fire

Firefighters had difficulty responding to a Covington-area house fire last week because of an overgrown driveway that made the house difficult to find and reach, according to a news release from St. Tammany Fire Protection District No. 12.

The owner of the house, at 76460 La. 1081, called to report that the dwelling was on fire shortly after midnight Thursday. The owner had not installed a smoke detector, but she and her two adult sons were awakened by the smell of smoke, the fire district said. All three escaped without injury.

Firefighters arrived at the house 81/2 minutes after the call, but their arrival was delayed because the narrow driveway was bordered by a lot of plants, making it difficult to find the entrance to the property and navigate the fire response apparatus, according to the fire district.

“We’re glad this family escaped safely from the home, and there are lessons to be learned from this event,” Fire Chief Darrell Guilott said. “Every home should have a smoke detector. The lack of one at this house could’ve allowed the fire to burn even longer and could have resulted in serious injury or death.

“Natural features that enhance the appearance of a home can also be dangerous. While lots of greenery for privacy or just for looks can be a nice feature for a home, consider that obscuring your property or entry ways can cost emergency responders valuable time, leading to greater damage or injury.”

The fire was under control about 10 minute after their arrival, thanks to the efforts of 16 firefighters. Investigators believe it was caused by improperly discarded smoking materials.