Truck stop fire leaves Belle Rose residents upset

Friday, September 23, 2011 - 5:19pm

BELLE ROSE, La (FOX44) — Donald Gros makes the two-mile trek from his home to the Gator Truck Stop and Casino almost every day.

"I'd fix me a cup of coffee, put a dollar in the machines, try to win me some dollars," he says.

Friday morning, he was forced to change his routine. "It makes me sad that it happened because during the day, I ain't got nothing to do," he explains. "It'll be boring during the day now."

Around 5:00 Thursday night, lightning set the roof of the Gator Stop Truck Stop and Casino on fire. The blaze spread quickly. "It was coming in fast," says Jennifer Haynes, an employee at the truck stop. "Within five minutes the whole building was covered in smoke."

Firefighters say the blaze left behind a million dollars in damages, but managers say, the building can be repaired. "It's just part of life," says manager Steve Robert. "It's part of business. It's not a great big deal, thank God."

That's good news for folks living in the area because the Gator Stop is so much more than a gas station. "It's a local spot for local people," Robert says. "It's not a big city where you've got numerous restaurants. This is basically it in this area."

Everyday, residents grab gas and bait at the truck stop. "You'll see about 50 boats at one time coming to fuel up," says employee Jeremy Cocke.

Some come for a good meal. Still others just stop by to get the latest gossip around town. "There are these retired guys that just come in and get their coffee and chitchat," says Cocke. "They'll be out of a hangout for awhile now."

Managers say it'll take about four to six weeks to get their business back up and running. In the meantime, residents like Gros, will have to find a new place to spend their days.


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