Sep 24, 2012 7:56 PM by Jenise Fernandez

Farmers Waiting to See What the Ultimate Damage to Their Crop Will Be

Inside one of those buildings near that huge fire in Abbeville Friday, thousands of barrels of rice. It's still unclear what the fate of all that rice will be. It took firefighters six hours to battle the blaze and even continued to fight it into Saturday morning. Firefighters tell us they used 48-hundred gallons of water per minute.The cause of the fire is still unknown. Captain Jason Harmon says it could take weeks before investigators can go in and figure out what happened.

"This clearly is one of the biggest fires we've seen inside city limits of Abbeville in a number of years," said Harmon.

This is a facility many farmers in Vermilion Parish depend on. About 20 farmers in the parish use this facility. They're still waiting as crews continue to clean up. Part of the facility is a total loss, but as the president of the Co-op tells KATC, the heart of the facility fared better than expected.

"This was our little home," said Co-op president, Keith Luquette.

All Luquette can do is stand back and wait. There are 60,000 barrels of rice inside this building, but he hasn't gone inside to see if the barrels are damaged. He's hoping for the best, because losing those barrels could be devastating.

"We're not sure. Really ain't sure what's going to go on," he said.

Although Luquette is unsure, his chances are looking good. The fire didn't reach where the rice is stored. Another important part of the facility, the dryer, is still standing too.

"Some power got knocked out so we're seeing what it's going to take to get it going," he added.

The fire burned down the building behind the Co-op. That building has been around since the 1940s. For the most part it was abandoned, but Captain Jason Harmon says there's a chance they may have to remove all the rice barrels and put them in another facility.

"We're trying to assess those areas where they still have smoldering and some fire and make sure it's put out. We're trying to save the rice," said Harmon.

"We're hoping we can all get together and rebuild because we're limited where we can bring our rice," said Charlie Guidry, Vice President of the Co-op.

Luquette says even if they do have to move the barrels, he hopes the facility will be ready to use within the next few weeks, when farmers start to bring in the second crop.



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