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Fire chief: smoke killed 63-year-old woman, apparently as she went for water to put on fire


OPELOUSAS, Louisiana — Opelousas Fire Chief Lee Cahanin says the coroner confirms that smoke inhalation killed a 63-year-old Opelousas woman.

He tells The Daily World ( ) that Vera Hayes Gabriel's home was very hot when firefighters arrived, but a cup of water put out the fire.

Cahanin says investigators believe the smoldering fire heated the air until a brief burst of superheated gas engulfed the home, blistering walls and consuming all the oxygen so the fire was nearly snuffed.

He says that's happened only three times in his career.

Cahanin says Gabriel apparently was asleep in bed Thursday when a match or cigarette set a sofa smoldering.

He says her house lacked smoke detectors, and smoke apparently overcame Gabriel as she headed to the kitchen for water to put on the fire.

Information from: The Daily World,

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