GALLERY: People in at least 20 rooms displaced by Budget Inn fire

Published 6:28 pm Monday, February 7, 2022

VIDALIA, La. — Budget Inn owner Jay Bhakta watched as more than half of the hotel went up in flames on Monday afternoon, displacing the occupants of approximately 20 rooms.

The hotel was in flames at approximately 3 p.m. with first responders still fighting back the fire hours later.

“I don’t know what my losses are,” Bhakta said, as flames and smoke continued to billow out of the hotel. “When this is over, I’ll have to count everything up.”

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Vidalia Police Chief Joey Merrill said a person of interest has been taken into custody while the investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing.

Vidalia police and fire departments, the Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office, Concordia Fire District 2 and AMR ambulance personnel all responded.

Medical personnel on scene said no injuries have been reported, however, an ambulance remained on standby in case something were to happen as firefighters worked to put out the blaze.

The back side of The Café restaurant, which is approximately two feet from where the hotel was engulfed, remained unharmed as did the houses in the neighborhood behind the hotel.

The Cafe’s building closest to the hotel is a warehouse full of storage items protected by a wall of brick and a metal roof.

“We have an amazing group out here keeping things under control,” said Vidalia Mayor Buz Craft as he watched at the scene of the fire. “We’ve got our gas and utility company’s here to make sure that everything is cut off and our water company here to make sure the town doesn’t lose water pressure.”

As he spoke, gallons of water by the hundreds of thousands were being dumped onto the hotel building to keep the flames at bay. The wind blew strongly to help spread the flames.

Craft added authorities would likely have to stay and watch the hotel overnight to make sure the fire doesn’t flicker back up again and cause more damage.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.