Friday, May 17 2013 11:37 AM EDT2013-05-17 15:37:38 GMT
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BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A massive blaze at The Caterie, a popular restaurant and nightclub in Baton Rouge, left it completely destroyed and other businesses heavily damaged. The businesses are all located in a shopping center. The fire started Friday morning and officials thought they had finally brought it under control late Friday night, but the fire flared up again early Saturday morning.
Robert Combs with the Baton Rouge Fire Department reported investigators believe the fire began somewhere in the second story above The Caterie. The fire spread to a couple of book warehouses that are also part of the building, including Claitor's Books. The fire gutted The Caterie and left Claitor's Books, Southdowns Discount Liquors and Cigarettes, and CVS Pharmacy with damage to their rooftops and ceilings from the fire. They also received water and smoke damage throughout. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
The fire consumed The Caterie, which is located in the Acadian-Perkins Plaza at Perkins Road and South Acadian Thruway. No injuries were reported from the fire. The intersection of Perkins and S. Acadian remain closed while fire crews continue to work. The fire department reported 34 units responded to the fire.
The Caterie served as a popular hangout for LSU students and many other late-nighters for over a quarter of a century, but a fire that would not stop burning reduced the structure to rubble. Huge plumes of smoke filled the skies above for several hours. The flames were believed to be extinguished at one point, but unfortunately, it had spread to a space between the roof and ceiling.
"The fire had gotten into some crawl space, what's considered an attic, false ceilings, and it was feeding in there," said Curt Monte with the Baton Rouge Fire Department. "The firefighters were having trouble getting to it."
The fire eventually reached the potential of turning deadly and the threat of serious injury to those inside greatly increased. When the roof began to collapse due to the flames, firefighters were pulled from the building for their safety.
"It got so overwhelmed that the roof actually caved in," said Monte Curt with the fire department. "At that point, we had to pull the firefighters out for their safety because the air condition units went to sag and falling in."
According to Jared Smith, the manager of The Caterie, the fire began in one of the offices or practice rooms next to the restaurant. In a released statement, he said the blaze spread through about 30 percent of the shopping center. The Caterie was a well known place for bands to play. The owner said the building was insured and he will rebuild. The plans provided little comfort for Jennifer Dear and some of her co-workers who could only watch their jobs burn down.
"I bawled my eyes out," Dear said. "You really just go into shock when you see an awesome place like this."
"It's not just a place that we all worked," added Rachael Doer. "It's a place that we all hung out together and made friends and ate great food, so it really hurts a lot to watch it burn like this."
"As a musician who has played and been involved in The Caterie for the past 16 years, I am certainly sad about today's events, but we're all thankful no one was hurt," Smith stated.