Downtown Lafayette apartment fire displaces dozens, reopening uncertain

LAFAYETTE, La (KLFY) – Dozens of elderly residents were displaced Tuesday night after a fire at the historic Evangeline Hotel in downtown Lafayette. The building is located at the intersection of Jefferson and Vine St.

Lafayette fire officials say it could be a couple of days, maybe even weeks, before residents can return back to the complex, but the 69 residents who were evacuated are now safe and sound at a local hotel.

The fire started in the kitchen of a room on the 4th floor of the six story building around 8:30 p.m. Fire officials say the tenant was cooking when she fell asleep.

“Fortunately, the apartments had a sprinkler system and it activated pretty quickly and extinguished the fire, so the fire was contained to the small area,” said Lafayette Fire Investigator, Alton Trahan, but it’s the amount of water that the sprinkler system produced that caused the evacuation of residents.

“The water damage from the sprinkler system actually went from the 4th floor all the way down to the 1st floor, so you had a lot of flooding in all the units underneath,” said Trahan.

Electrical hazard concerns had prompted the owners to cut power to the building and bring in engineers to inspect the damage.

“A lot of components within that facility need to be examined and once it’s cleared they’ll be able to put the power back on,” said Trahan.

Meanwhile, the displaced residents, initially housed in two hotels, have since been reunited at one local hotel.

“Most of them came last night, a few of them early this morning,” said Shawn Johnson, General Manager of the Ramada Inn. “I think we’re accommodating about 41 people.”

Johnson says they had to do a little moving around, but they were able to squeeze everyone in.

“They all have their own room,” said Johnson. “We’ve included all their meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner all together, so I’m very grateful and thankful we’re able to accommodate them. Most of them came in with just what they had on.”

News 10 also spoke with the on-site manager of the Evangeline Apartments and she said the property is controlled by the Lafayette Neighborhoods’ Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors, who wished not to comment at this time citing that their first priority is the residents well-being.

Fortunately, no one was injured.

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