ST. FRANCISVILLE, LA (WAFB) - Fire officials said the gift shop at the historical Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville was destroyed by fire Wednesday night and it remains unknown exactly how it started.
The St. Francisville Fire Department reported the first call about the fire was around 8 p.m. Chief Tommy Robinson said some guests eating in the restaurant saw smoke rising from the gift shop and contacted authorities.
Robinson said the fire was under control by 10 p.m. He said the fire marshal was called out to assist in the investigation because the building is on the historical registry. He added the fire marshal ruled it as accidental and does not suspect foul play.
Witnesses said the flames got dangerously close to the historic building, but firefighters were able to save the main building.
Teresa David, the general manager at the plantation, says one of a fireman sat on top of the breezeway, making sure the flames did not get to the main house.
"They came within about a foot of it," David said.
No injuries were reported.
The gift shop remained closed Thursday. Officials said this was the first major fire at the property since the 1950s.
"This structure was built in 1794," said David. It turns 220 year old this year. The gift shop building is two years older than the main house.
Fire crews cut a hole in the side of the gift shop to tackle the flames. Most of the damage was in the attic and in the rear of the building, a section that was added on.
The Myrtle's is deemed one of the most haunted homes in America. David says they do have things happen inside the gift shop and ruling the fire as accidental does make some wonder - was it the ghosts?
"I think they were watching over us last night," David said. "I think they stopped it. I just feel like we have lots of extra hands guarding our home."
Among the items able to be saved, the general manager says is the plantation's guest reservation book. Workers do not use computers to block guests rooms, they keep track of visitors by hand. David says one of the firemen ran in and out while flames were still burning to save that book.
One fire truck from St. Francisville, one from Zachary and three from West Feliciana Parish responded to the fire.