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Official: Family fight apparently sparked fatal house fire

January 24, 2017

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A family fight apparently prompted a 28-year-old Covington-area man to splash gasoline around the house and start the fire that killed him and hospitalized his twin brother and their father, the Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s Office said Monday.

Deputy Chief Brant Thompson said Jamie Kellum, 55, of the Goodbee community, was in grave condition Monday in a Baton Rouge burn unit with burns over 85 percent of his body. Michael Kellum, who apparently was burned pulling his father out of the house early Sunday, is expected to recover from burns over 15 percent of his body, Thompson told The Associated Press by phone.

He said the dead man is tentatively identified as 28-year-old James Brandon Kellum, but tests will be needed to confirm that.

The gasoline was from a 5 gallon container of gasoline the family kept full for lawnmowers, leaf blowers and other equipment, Thompson said.

He said the family, including the brothers’ stepmother, had gone out drinking Saturday night and got into an argument — something that apparently was fairly common.

Jamie Kellum’s wife went to a neighbor’s house, he said, and at some point Michael Kellum found his father and brother “on the floor, tussling.”

That fight may have started because Brandon Kellum had doused the house with gasoline, but that’s not certain, Thompson said.

He said Michael Kellum separated the two and then lost sight of his brother.

“The home quickly erupted in flames,” Thompson said.

“Our initial indications are that there was gasoline throughout that area of the home as well as on their persons,” he said.

The pattern of Michael Kellum’s burns, on one arm and shoulder and one side of his face, neck and check, fits with his account of being burned pulling his father from the burning house, Thompson said.

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