Officials determine Sacs Western Store fire caused by heat lamp, several animals perish

Sacs Western Store in Gonzales (Source: WAFB)
Sacs Western Store in Gonzales (Source: WAFB)

GONZALES, LA (WAFB) - Officials reported fire caused considerable damage to the popular Sacs Western Store in Gonzales on Sunday and resulted in the deaths of several animals inside.

The Gonzales Fire Department said a driver passing by the store on LA 44 (Burnside Avenue) called emergency officials just before 6:30 p.m. to report the store was on fire.

Officials said firefighters arriving at the scene reported seeing flames through a front window. They added more than 20 firefighters responded to the blaze and were able to put it out in less than an hour.

Investigators said they determined the fire was caused by a heat lamp used to keep a piglet warm. They added unfortunately, that piglet and two rabbits died in the fire. Others at the scene reported at least two birds and a few lizards also didn't survive. However, officials said store workers found an iguana alive.

"What we think happened was the heat lamp either touched the crate or became dislodged from movement of the piglet inside the crate," said Chief Tracey Normand of the Gonzales Fire Department.

Assistant Fire Chief Preston Landry said two firefighters suffered heat-related injuries. He added one was taken to the hospital in good condition, while the other was treated at the scene and released.

According to Landry, the flames were contained to the section of the building with the animals and outdoor supplies, but the entire building has a significant amount of smoke damage. He added the fire caused about $100,000 worth of damage to the building and an unknown amount of inventory was loss.

The store opened in 1968. Locals describe Sacs as an institution in Gonzales. They said the country western store is the place where many little kids in the city got their first cowboy hat.

Mayor Barney Arceneaux says the store is a huge part of the community. "It suddenly just hits so close to home. People wanna' go there and not only buy their items there, but they just feel like the people that own it are family and they can just go there and sit there and have a good time," Arceneaux said.

Volunteers and management were at the scene Monday morning to assist with cleanup. They say they're going to find out how much insurance will cover and then regroup.

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