Downtown staple open for business despite smoke damage
BATON ROUGE, LA (NBC33) — Bates and Thigpen clothing store has been a staple of downtown Baton Rouge since 1924, and even an early morning fire couldn't force their doors shut.
"Sure enough they did see smoke come out the top of the building at which point the fire department and everybody was really quick to get out here, they were real fast to respond and thankfully we didn't lose a whole lot because of it," explained Brad Bates of Bates & Thigpen.
The fire started in a building attached to the long-time clothing store, but firefighters had to work fast to make sure the flames didn't spread to the rest of the city block.
"Problem is in some of these older buildings you have additions, crawl spaces, attic spaces that are extremely hard to get to in some circumstances," explained Curt Monte of the Baton Rouge Fire Department.
Two hours later the fire was contained, but now those working in Bates and Thigpen have to take care of the damage you can't see.
"We have little visible damage, there's a lot of smoke and soot everywhere and ashes and stuff that needs to be cleaned up. So for the next few weeks we'll be pretty steady doing that," explained Bates.
About $75,000 worth of merchandise is damaged because of the smoke. But Brad Bates and his family are ready to clean up and keep the store in business like it has been for the past 89 years.
"You got to take the good with the bad and that's what you pay your insurance company for. A lot of our customers have been very loyal and this won't stop them one bit," said Bates.
Fire investigators believe the cause of the fire was electrical.