In the early morning hours of February 18th, I watched the house fire at126 W. Saint Peter St. with a mixture of relief, sadness and admiration. I was relieved that all of the occupants and their pets had safely evacuated the house. I was saddened to think that I was watching the loss of everything that they owned and that their lives were changing dramatically. I was also saddened to think that I was watching the destruction of a 120 year old house that had been in my wife’s family since it was rebuilt after the 1899 fire until it was sold almost 20 years ago.
I felt admiration for the first responders, the police who cordoned off the area, the EMTs who evacuated the elderly resident (and his little dog) of the adjacent house and the firefighters who extinguished the fire. It is my understanding that the NIFD recognized the severity of the fire early on and requested assistance from other departments. They attacked the fire from different angles with multiple hoses and a water cannon yet the fire continued to grow. They also took precautions to prevent the spread to other nearby structures. It took several hours of diligent effort and untold amounts of water but the fire was finally extinguished. During their inspection to ensure there were no remaining hotspots that would reflash they found some items that were undamaged by the fire and water and returned them to the owners. That act of kindness reflects a true level of empathy and meant a great deal to the owners. It is comforting to know that New Iberia has such dedicated and professional first responders. My hat is off to all of them, especially the NIFD.