Seminarians evacuate as fire hits St. Joseph Abbey

Updated: Sep 26, 2012 9:29 PM CDT
Written by: Nancy Parker

Covington, La. – A seminarian’s early morning prayers may have given firefighters the time they needed to control a blaze on the grounds of St. Joseph Abbey in Covington.

“Had those men not worked like they did, this building could have been destroyed,” said Father Gregory Boquet, rector at the Abbey.

He surveyed the damage from the three-alarm fire at the seminary, and applauds St. Tammany Fire District 12.

The fire broke out after 2:00 a.m. in the computer server room at the St. Pius X building on the Abbey grounds. It is the same building where dozens of students slept. 64 seminarians were evacuated.

One seminarian happened to be praying in the chapel around the same time the fire started. He alerted a professor.

“I told him to pull the fire alarm so I can make the 911 call,” said seminarian Christian Gonzalez.

“I live in a separate building so we all heard the alarm and we tried to knock on doors and get everybody up and going,” said Nick Adam.

Bouquet says there are backup computer systems off site, to recover information on the burned servers. The state fire marshal’s office estimates repairs will cost around $300,000

St. Joseph Abbey fire badly damages dormitory

Abbey firefighters

By Ramon Antonio Vargas, The Times-Picayune
on September 26, 2012 at 7:57 AM, updated September 26, 2012 at 10:21 AM

A fire at St. Joseph Abbey Catholic Seminary near Covington early Wednesday badly damaged a dormitory building there, according to the Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s Office. The 2:30 a.m. blaze started in a room housing computer server equipment; extended into an attic in the area; and spread to other parts of the structure, causing significant flame and smoke damage throughout, said Fire Marshal H. “Butch” Browning.

St. Joseph Abbey seminarians safe after early morning fire
“At this point, nothing suspicious has come to our attention, but it’s still too early to come up with a conclusion,” Browning remarked. “In this situation where no one was hurt, we can give credit to the fact that this facility had a fire detection system, and that gave the early warning. … That goes a long way in ensuring safety.”

State Police offering child car seat inspections on Saturday

By Robert Rhoden, The Times-Picayune
on September 18, 2012 at 11:04 AM, updated September 18, 2012 at 11:14 AM Email | Print

State police and members of the Louisiana Passenger Safety Task Force on Saturday will provide free car seat inspections and information on their use at several locations in the New Orleans area and beyond. In connection with Child Passenger Safety Week, technicians will be on hand to conduct seat inspections ensuring proper installation of each child’s safety seat, Trooper Nick Manale, of Troop L, said in a news release.

Parents and caregivers also will be provided with life-saving information regarding the appropriate seat for each child’s age, weight, and height, he said. Child safety seats including booster seats offer the best protection for children in the event of a crash, Manale said. When properly installed and used, child seats can reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for children under 1, and by 54 percent for children 1- to 4-years-old. But an estimated three of every four car seats are not used properly, Manale said.

Inspections will be held Saturday at the following locations:

* Troop A Region – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Brilliant Minds Learning Center
1421 Gardere Lane
Baton Rouge, LA 70820

* Troop B Region – 9 a.m. to noon

St. Bernard Parish government complex
8201 West Judge Perez Drive
Chalmette, LA 70043

* Troop C Region – 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Houma Walmart
1633 Martin Luther King Boulevard
Houma, LA 70360

* Troop I Region – 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

St. Martin Hospital
210 Champagne Boulevard
Breaux Bridge, LA 70517

* Troop L Region – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Mandeville Kmart
3555 Highway 190
Mandeville, LA 70471
985-893-6250 Ext: 628

In addition to Saturday’s events, every Louisiana State Police Troop Headquarters serves as a grant-funded Child Passenger Safety fitting station on designated days throughout the week. In addition, technicians are available upon request to perform inspections at daycare centers, schools, and various community events. There are also programs available to those individuals who may not be able to afford a child safety seat, Manale said.

To schedule an appointment, learn about a troop area’s inspection day, or arrange for a check up event, contact your region’s State Police public information officer.