The Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA.)


GREENSBURG – A late-night explosion and fire in a rural residence injured six people, including four children, fire officials said Thursday. Two of those injured were in critical condition Thursday afternoon, hospital officials said.

A gas leak or open gas valve may have been the cause of the fire, which apparently was preceded by an explosion, officials said. The family members injured in the case had just moved into the rental home, Chief Deputy Nat Williams of the St. Helena Sheriff’s Office said.

Alton Tillery, who oversees but doesn’t own the house, apparently was looking for the problem when an explosion occurred, officials said. Tillery was listed in critical condition at Baton Rouge General Medical Center’s Burn Unit Thursday afternoon.

The oldest child in the home also was in critical condition and has been transferred to Shriners Hospital in Texas, officials said. The children’s mother, Monica Jackson, was reported in good condition in Baton Rouge General Medical Center’s Burn Unit where two other children were reported in fair condition.The youngest child, a 5-year-old girl, was treated and released from the hospital, officials said. The incident occurred west of Greensburg on La. 10, Williams said.

The explosion and resulting fire destroyed the house, said Rita Allen of the North Helena Volunteer Fire Department. Indications are that arson wasn’t involved and that natural gas caused an explosion that blew parts of the front door several hundred feet, said Greg Greco, chief arson investigator for the State Fire Marshal’s Office.