Authorities suspect a lightning strike started the fire that destroyed the popular Zydeco’s Cajun Restaurant in Boutte on Monday, although the cause remains officially under investigation, a state official said Tuesday.
Whatever the case, the restaurant’s 50 employees are out of a job, at least until Zydeco’s owners figure out their next step.
“We’re still in shock,” said Rose Marie Gainey, who co-owns Zydeco’s with her husband, Dusten.
Gainey and many of her workers spent Monday evening watching the restaurant’s building at 13228 U.S. 90 crumble amid flames and smoke despite the efforts of firefighters from five different agencies.
Zydeco’s was closed Monday for Memorial Day, but passers-by noticed it was ablaze just after 4 p.m., said Chief Craig Petit, of the Luling Volunteer Fire Department.
Petit said his agency had help from the Paradis, Des Allemands, East St. Charles and Lafourche volunteer fire departments, but it still took several hours to completely douse the blaze.
The restaurant’s roof, which consisted of multiple layers, complicated the effort. Firefighters needed heavy construction equipment borrowed from the St. Charles Parish government to break apart metal ceiling panels concealing so-called “hot spots,” Petit said.
There were no injuries, but the fire caused an estimated $1 million in damage, according to the state Fire Marshal’s Office.
The extensive damage could prevent investigators from ever conclusively determining what caused the fire. But Deputy Chief Brant Thompson, of the Fire Marshal’s Office, said numerous people reported seeing lightning strikes around Zydeco’s as a line of strong storms passed through the area about the time that flames erupted.
Investigators also concluded the fire began toward the top of the building, which would be consistent with a lightning strike, Thompson said.
Zydeco’s moved to its locale in Boutte about six years ago and often had nightly crowds of more than 850, Gainey said.
Gainey said the outpouring of support her family has received on social media and elsewhere was one silver lining to Monday’s disaster.
“The community stands behind us,” she said.