Power restored for hundreds following Gretna florist fire

Photo by David Grunfeld, NOLA.com |The Times-Picayune
Photo by David Grunfeld, NOLA.com |The Times-Picayune

GRETNA, LA (WVUE) - Hundreds of Gretna residents were without power most of the day following a fire that destroyed a well-known Gretna florist.

Power was restored late Tuesday night to those residents.

Gretna Mayor Belinda Constant says they've opened a warming shelter just down the street at the Gretna Cultural Center at 519 Huey P. Long Avenue.

Meanwhile, crews remained on the scene late into Tuesday, working to keep the building that housed the Le Grand Florist shop from collapsing.

Investigators now believe the cause of the fire is due to a faulty upstairs heater.

The fire broke out Tuesday morning around 8:00 a.m.  leaving the owners without a business and a home.

As of 12:00 p.m. firefighters were still on scene spraying water on the smoldering building.

Officials say the building is destroyed.

The owners, the LeGrands, lived on the second floor of the business. They were preparing to celebrate 60 years in business on Valentines Day, but crews could not save the two-story building.

"It's just devastating. This is an institution. It's not a just a business here in the city. It's an iconic place in this historic city," said Gretna Mayor Belinda Constant. "I don't think there's anyone in this city that this business hasn't touched. When you think about all the high points and low points in your life, Mr. Mark Le Grand has been there."

Smoke filled the neighborhood, and residents watched in tears as it was engulfed in flames.

"I hate to see this place burned up like that. I couldn't imagine it burning. We thought it might be a house so we came to see what it was," said Warren Bergeron. "I just feel bad to see this building destroyed because I hope that they'll be able to build it back again. I'm not sure though."

"I grew up on this street. I still live here and it's been here since I can remember, my whole life. 60 years, that I know of," said Stephanie Dieterich.  "So it's just a historical building and it's never, ever going to be able to be replicated again and it just breaks my heart to see it go."

Firefighters on scene also had to deal with the cold temperatures. Some were covered in icicles from the water from their hoses.

Mayor Constant said she is sure the community will support LeGrand just like they have for 60 years.