A fire in New Iberia has left one man homeless, but thankful to the neighbor that saved his life. Early Sunday morning, firefighters responded to a home on West Washington Street, in regards to a fire. When they arrived, the home was engulfed in flames. 57 year-old Mitchell Berry has owned the home for the past five years. He said the home belonged to his parents and has been in his family for over 70 years.
Berry, who works nights, came home at three in the morning and began heating food on the stove.
"I must have laid down and fell asleep," he explained.
The fire started in the kitchen and quickly spread to the roof and the rest of the home, destroying everything in its path. The roof above Berry's bedroom caved in, and had it not been for neighbor Danielle Louis, he might not be alive.
"I saw the smoke and called 911 and we all came over here," Louis began. "I saw the light from the TV and saw he was in there and we started banging on the window. He moved, and my heart really started beating, and I just thought he was stuck or that he couldn't get out the window."
Louis grabbed a traffic cone and began beating on the window until it broke. By that time, Berry was finally awake and moved quickly to the kitchen to escape. Louis said she would have done anything to save his life.
"If I would have had to crawl in there I would have done it. I couldn't have him dying on me."
The home is destroyed, and while Berry is thankful to Louis, he now is faced with a harsh reality. He is homeless and does not have even the simplest things to get by on a daily basis.
"You go to brush your teeth and realize you don't have a toothbrush or shoes or underwear. Everything I had was in there."
He is also trying to deal with his childhood home, where he and his eleven sibling grew up, is now gone and he feels responsible.
"Had I not lit the stove that night, I don't think this fire would have happened. I have to take responsibility for that."
Berry plans to rebuild the home; however he said he's not sure when or how. The family says Berry is in need of everything from clothes to toiletries. Citizens can drop-off donations at 311 West Washington Street in New Iberia. A fund has also been established in his name by family members. To donate, visit any Chase Bank and ask for the Mitchell Berry donation account, or visit Chase on Center Street in New Iberia.