On the night of Oct. 20, dust from a junction box was the ignition that sent a warehouse up in flames at Dupont Nursery. The Plaquemine, Louisiana-based wholesale nursery announced the news via Facebook posts on Oct. 21 and Oct. 22, which you can read here and here.
“We were able to pinpoint exactly where it was on the videos cameras in the warehouse. It went up pretty quick,” said Robert Dupont III. He helps run the family business with his father, owner Robert Dupont Jr.
The fire was contained in the metal walls of the warehouse. Dupont said the fire department arrived and finished containing the fire, which saved the main office data center located next to the warehouse.
“Everything was saved in the main office, which was right next to it, so that's really fortunate,” Dupont said.
Local businesses jumped in to assist the nursery after the news of the fire spread.
“Langridge Plant Sales down in Belle Chasse, Louisiana, brought us a tray filler on Friday, so that's going to help us to be able to plant all the plugs that we had left to plant in the fall — some pansy plugs and such,” Dupont said. “But I think we’re probably going to have to cancel the rest of our plug ordersfrom Ball Seed, simply because we won't have the resources to the plant all that fast enough.”
Clegg’s, a nursery in Baton Rouge, extended the offer to fill some of its flats for the nursery, and Dupont is hopeful they can finish planting the plugs that they already have on hand. The greenhouse also offered to buy their plugs as well.
“Other than that, I think we're good to go on shipping. We're able to pull orders and ship orders, so none of the plants were damaged. None of the trucks were damaged. All the workers have been showing up and we're getting it done,” Dupont said.
The Louisiana Nursery and Landscape Association (LNLA) called the news of the fire “a devastating blow,” considering the nursery experienced damage from two hurricanes earlier this summer.
“But we know that they are that they're going to take the bull by the horns and get right back to it. And they're going to come back stronger than before,” said Cari Jane Murray, executive secretary of the LNLA.
That’s exactly what the nursery intends on doing, and the staff is already pushing ahead for better days.
“We're just cleaning up now. We've got most of it demolished and put into very large dump trailers and they're bringing that to the scrap yard. We're cleaning the slab up right now. As soon as we get the slab cleaned up and ready to pour concrete again, we're going to do that and start on a new building,” Dupont said.