Residents recall witnessing blaze at apartment,bar

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POSTED: Friday, December 6, 2013 - 6:51pm

UPDATED: Sunday, December 8, 2013 - 10:16pm

Baton Rouge Fire Department Investigators are trying to figure out what cause a fire that destroyed a local bar and several apartments near the intersection of Old Hammond Highway and Drusilla Lane.

Robert Combs with the Baton Rouge Fire Department says crews responded to the call of a fire at TimeOut Lounge around 5:30 Friday morning. Combs said the fire is believed to have started at the TimeOut Lounge. Then the apartments right next to the lounge caught fire. Combs said the strip mall behind the bar and apartments received smoke and water damage.

People living in the apartments say the experience was something they'll never forget.

"I get up I go outside and I look towards the back part where the bar room was at. I seen that it was like a bonfire going off back there in the back," Patrick Pace, who's apartment was burned, said.

Patrick Pace was inside his apartment early this morning when he smelled smoke, so he came outside realized the bonfire was actually the local bar burning.

"It looked like a bonfire that you see on New Year's Eve," Pace said.

He got safely away from the fire, then he saw: "I seen the first apartment explode and shot out debris. "

Pace couldn't believe something like this could happen right where he lives.

"It's surreal. That's about the best I can put it. Feels like you're in a dream state like is this really happening to me, " Pace said.

Pace tried to comfort his neighbors.

"The thing was I was trying to get them all to be calm you know and I said look you might have lost a lot of material things all that can be replaced we got out alive. "

People living near the complex and those affected by the flames and smoke watched as firefighters worked hard to get the fire under control.

The Red Cross came out to help those affected.

"When you're burned out of your home even when you have resources you don't know what's next and just to watch the emotions that come with that," Malone said. "You need somebody to sit there and say hey you're going to get through this and to provide that blanket that warm cup of coffee just to help you get through."

Malone said Friday afternoon in a release: "The American Red Cross is assisting the 14 residents of seven apartment units destroyed in a Baton Rouge fire this morning. The blaze before dawn was at Old Hammond Highway and Drusilla Lane.

Based on the residents' needs, the Red Cross is helping coordinate assistance in the form of shelter, food, clothing, shoes, blankets, health services and emotional support due to fire damage, as well as referrals to our community partners. "

Parts of Old Hammond Highway were shut down for hours causing major traffic delays.

Combs said one firefighter was injured during the blaze, but is ok.

"We did have one firefighter that was slightly injured this morning received possible second degree burns to his neck, but he was taken to one of our facilities and he was treated and everything is good to go," Combs said.

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