On Nov. 1, an apartment fire in the Caffrey building of Legacy Park Apartments caused both smoke and water damage.

At around 11 a.m., Kenneth Fountain called the Lafayette Fire Department due to a kitchen fire. After having made breakfast, Fountain prepared tea but started the wrong stove burner, which resulted in melting plastic and the ensuing fire.

Fountain said he tried to stop the inferno with a fire extinguisher, but was unsuccessful. At that point, he left the building and called for emergency responders. They responded quickly and contained the situation without incident.

According to Alton Trahan, public information officer of the Lafayette Fire Department, the apartment’s sprinkler system prevented the fire from spreading out of control.

“We were very lucky. Usually fires like this can get out of hand quickly, but the sprinkler system activated early and prevented further damage,” Trahan said.

That same sprinkler system, however, caused flooding to the apartments below, apartment 303. According to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Housing Department, it caused enough water damage in the downstairs apartments that the residents had to move to other available housing in Legacy Park Apartments.

Trahan explained that there is one simple way to effectively prevent flies in the kitchen and around the home.

“The most important thing to fire prevention is awareness. Being aware of your surroundings when you are dealing with something that’s potentially fire causing can stop you from making careless mistakes. Fires can start in so many ways, it’s important for people to pay attention,” Trahan said.

Trahan said if a fire does start, don’t panic; identify the type of fire it is and respond the right way. Don’t pour water on an oil fire; suffocate it. Keep an extinguisher and fire blanket nearby when in the kitchen.

Beyond causing physical damage, the fire caused lasting damage to Fountain’s school life and psychological health. Following the incident, Fountain was required to not only move all of his belongings to a new apartment, but had to replace items caught in the fire. 

According to Fountain, this put strain on his ability to attend classes and work on certain projects, so he reached out to his teachers. Although a majority of his teachers understood his situation and relieved him of burden, one made the situation more difficult.

“They didn’t communicate with me at all, and then didn’t take me seriously when they finally did. It really felt like a wrench was thrown right at me, and the rug was pulled from underneath. I really let life slip for a while after. Honestly I’m really waiting on the Thanksgiving break to really just refocus,” Fountain said.

Dawn Miller, director of Student Union and interim housing director, said the university extended its gratitude towards the emergency responders who provided support. 

“The University of Louisiana at Lafayette would like to thank the Lafayette Fire Department and all first responders for their quick and effective response,” Miller said.