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