73-year-old woman trapped by security gate dies in house fire, family says

A 73-year-old woman died in a house fire when she became trapped by a security gate. (Source: WVUE)
Published: Dec. 19, 2022 at 2:29 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE/Gray News) – A 73-year-old woman died in a fire at her home because she was trapped by a security gate with a padlock on it, according to the victim’s family.

Family identified the woman as Ferilee Simpson. They said the electricity at Simpson’s home in the Fairgrounds neighborhood of New Orleans has not been turned on since Hurricane Zeta left damage in October 2020.

In the meantime, Simpson had been staying at a nearby motel but frequently visited her home to check on renovations, according to her nephew and neighbor Matthew Ballier.

Simpson was paying a visit to her home when the fire broke out.

“She was screaming my name inside, and when I came to the gate, I saw the side of the house was on fire,” Ballier said. “I had to go and find the keys and start throwing water. Then the whole porch was engulfed in flames, and she burned up.”

The New Orleans Fire Department said they received calls about a fire at the home around 7:15 p.m. Sunday. Firefighters said when they arrived, the building was engulfed in flames and that they had to force entry into the home by cutting open bars and chains on the front door.

Simpson was pronounced dead on the scene. The fire was under control around 8:30 p.m., according to authorities.

Firefighters said Simpson lived alone and that there were no smoke detectors inside of the home.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.