For those New Orleanians who live in the Central City neighborhood, exuding style and character is the norm. This gentleman who said that people there call him “Tippit” – sports a brand new pair of red suspenders while taking his afternoon sidewalk stroll. A man of exceptional cordiality, he spoke to me as if I were an old friend, recommending that I go to the 2nd Line Parade that was about to step off that afternoon.

King’s Fashion store in Central City

The Kings Fashion store is on Jackson Ave. in the Central City neighborhood of New Orleans. Here the proprietor and his family advertise by standing in front of the store waving American flags. From the 1830s to the 1950s Central City was known as “back of town.”  At the time that it began to be developed, it was a large, mosquito-infested, swampy area, 3-10 feet below sea level. For 170 years, Central City has been home to the many immigrant and working class populations of New Orleans’ history – German, Irish, Italian, Jewish, and now African American residents. In the neighborhood there are approximately 2800 shotgun style houses.

Discarded burning pizza box ignites home of 26 people

Within a few minutes of several local fire departments arriving, the Clark Street apartment house was nearly fully engulfed. The fire had started from a tenant who had placed a pizza in its box in an oven to reheat it. When the box caught fire, it was thrown out a back door and landed against the apartment building that was home to 26 residents.

Man trapped in burning building

Juan Diaz was trapped on the third floor of the burning house on Clark St. in Willimantic on Sunday afternoon. As local fire companies fought the fire from all sides of the house, Diaz suddenly appeared three stories up as the entire building was bursting into flames. Willimantic Fire Captain Theriault said latter, that there was no time to go for a longer ladder, Diaz was going to have to escape immediately using an aluminum extension ladder. It didn’t quite reach the third floor of the house. Diaz did connect with the ladder but suffered a cut on his hand from hanging from the broken window. His family stood on Main Street watching as he was trying to escape.

Firefighters see that flames are about to spread

Mansfield firefighter Phil Lee, left, and Willimantic firefighter Ron Miles Jr. point to the gable end of the apartment building where the fire was threatening to jump to an adjacent house.

Juan Diaz reaches the ground

Juan Diaz reaches the ground after he climbed down an aluminum ladder from a 3rd floor window. Helping him is Willimantic firefighter Ron Miles, Jr..

Collapsed firefighter helped by police and fellow fireman

Willimantic Police Sgt. Ian Brown, left, and Willimantic firefighter Eric Beaulieu, right, help Willimantic firefighter Colin Martin after he collapses in front of the burning building on Clark Street.

Rescued man watches home burn

Emergency Medical Service personnel tend to Diaz’s injured hand while he, with family and friends, watch as the firemen continue battle the apartment building fire.

Fire continues to rage

While Diaz was being rescued from the third floor of the burning building, the fire continued to blaze at its opposite end.

Dousing fire between the floors

Willimantic firefighter Colin Martin pours water into the ceiling of the first floor of the apartment building.