A wildfire that has ravaged Louisiana for nearly two weeks, becoming the largest in the state’s history, was caused by arson, officials determined Saturday.
The Tiger Island fire, which broke out in southwestern Louisiana on Aug. 22 and has damaged nearly 50 square miles so far, was determined by the state’s Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) to have been the result of arson, the agency announced in a press release.
At least one person has died, as four wildfires rage across Louisiana, including the so-called Tiger Island Fire, the largest in state history, which has forced 12,000 residents to evacuate. https://t.co/dpFtfXyGEO pic.twitter.com/AoXFIcivwq
— CBS Mornings (@CBSMornings) August 28, 2023
“LDAF investigators, Louisiana State Fire Marshal deputies, and the Beauregard Parish Sheriff’s Office detectives are actively investigating this matter,” the release stated.
The fire, which has burned a staggering 33,000 acres, has destroyed approximately 20 buildings and forced the evacuation of the entire town of Merryville Aug. 24., CBS News reported. Efforts to contain the fire allowed residents to cautiously make their way back to their homes this week, with volunteer firefighter Gabe Kemp remarking they were “fortunate [to] still have a town” despite the “scary” situation, according to NOLA.com.
Though the blaze is 50% contained, Red Flag warnings are in place ahead of a forecast of hot, dry conditions coupled with 15 mph wind gusts, KLFY reported. Louisiana’s Air National Guard has dropped more than 1.1 million gallons of water over various parishes within the affected zone in an effort to contain the blaze while bulldozers work to knock down trees and create soil berms to contain the fire’s spread, the outlet stated.
Investigators are asking anyone with any information regarding the suspect or suspects involved starting the fire to alert LDAF authorities. A $2,000 cash reward is available to anyone who provides information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the blaze, the release stated.