Lack of hydrants hampers efforts to save Lafayette mansion
LAFAYETTE — Fire investigators rummaged through the charred remains of what used to be an 18,000-square-foot Verot School Road home on Monday, which burned to the ground Sunday as firefighters ferried water from cities miles away because there were no nearby fire hydrants.
“We had no water,” Alton Trahan said Monday as he slid on his rubber work boots to begin sifting through the rubble with other Lafayette Fire Department investigators.
Firefighters arrived at the home, a columned mansion set about 500 feet from Verot School Road, at about 4 p.m. Sunday.
“When firefighters arrived, the garage was fully involved,” Trahan said. “Heavy smoke was coming from the eaves of the dwelling.”
The only water available was on one fire truck, and that didn’t last long. It took another 40 minutes before enough water started arriving to fight the blaze.
By that time, the fire had spread to the attic, the roof and the rest of the two-story home, Trahan said.
Ralph Wadleigh, who owns the home, told investigators he was watching television and his wife was outside Sunday afternoon when the fire started in the garage, Trahan said.
“They attempted to extinguish it, but the fire grew too fast,” Trahan said.
Trahan said water was trucked in from Youngsville, Carencro and Scott while the blaze was fought by firefighters from Lafayette, Youngsville, Milton and Broussard.
Once there was water at the scene, it took two hours to bring it under control, Trahan said.
Trahan said the investigation was in its preliminary stage and would continue.