Massive apartment fire may have started outside of the building
BATON ROUGE – Investigators think a massive fire that burned two large apartment buildings Thursday began from the outside, WBRZ learned.
Crews were looking through the rubble Friday as residents tried to salvage whatever they could find. Just hours earlier, firefighters finished battling the blaze that injured as many as five people, including first responders. Those injured suffered heat or smoke-related injuries. Among the injured were two residents were transported to the hospital with second degree burns.
Just after lunch Thursday, the fire erupted at the Cobblestone apartment complex located at 5431 Essen Lane. Authorities say Building 5367 was engulfed in flames when they arrived, and numerous calls for additional crews were made. The fire continued to spread to a second building, both of which were a total loss.
Three nearby buildings suffered exterior damage from intense heat, but did not catch fire.
10 trucks from the St. George Fire Department and five from the Baton Rouge Fire Department were on scene battling the blaze, along with a number of officers and support personnel from each department.
St. George Fire Department says the fire was brought under control by 3 p.m., although firefighters continued to put out hot spots and flare-ups throughout the afternoon and evening.
Eldon Ledoux of the St. George Fire Department said 18 apartment units were destroyed, and another 18 units received smoke or water damage of varying severities. In total, about 36 families were displaced because of the fire, Ledoux said. Red Cross was on the scene and set up a processing center to assist those displaced.
Fire investigators think the picture, above, was the first taken of the blaze Thursday. The picture was released to WBRZ a day after the fire.
Federal agents of the ATF along with investigators from the St. George and Baton Rouge Fire Departments are looking for the cause. Investigators released what they believe is one of the first pictures taken of the blaze. A source told WBRZ, the fire seems to have started near the middle of the building and likely started on the exterior of the structure.