Historic Celotex building destroyed in fire

Historic Celotex building destroyed in fire

MARRERO, LA (WVUE) - A massive fire at the historic Celotex facility on the West Bank destroyed the plant's nearly-century-old art-deco administration building.

"When I arrived the building was pretty much on the ground, a lot of smoke, I saw some of the flames," sed Ted Munch, a Westwego resident whose mother and father worked at the plant.

Munch grew up in Westwego and remembers his mother following in the footsteps of Rosie the Riveter to during the war effort.

"My mom was part of the workforce during World War II, came into the plant, and continued to keep the plant operational and of course when my dad came home my mom left the plan and proceeded to raise the family," Munch said.

The plant produced ceiling tiles of various sizes using bag gas from local sugar mills.

"Drop ceiling in later years. In the early years it was an interlock type material," Munch said. "Matter of fact, some of the material was used in the capital in Baton Rouge."

Sunday afternoon, Munch sifted through some debris with the current caretakers of the property, finding scorched documents from decades of record keeping.

"Nearly 100 years of information of the community was lost in the building behind us. Records from 1923, surveys, the people who worked here," Munch said.

Nearby the plant's dormant fire system, once used by specialized crews at the facility, sits ironically unusable just feet away from the destroyed building.

"After Katrina, the sister plant was able to pick up the workload. So essentially, the office was locked, which turned into a time capsule and the new owners potentially were going to preserve that and it was going to be a gift to the community," Munch said.

A local movie studio, New Orleans Motion Picture Studios, plans to rehab the facility and hoped to keep that history alive for generations to come, but now it's destined to be a time capsule lost forever, a history consumed by flames.

Jefferson Parish Fire investigators said the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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