Search for Louisiana Wildfire Arsonists Underway
It's not just the Tiger Island Wildfire in southwest Louisiana that's now ruled as arson. Five arrests and three potential arsonists being sought from the state's nearly 600 fires.
The search is on for the person or people responsible for starting the Tiger Island Wildfire which has now become the largest in state history. The Louisiana Forestry Association is now offering a $2,000 reward to anyone who can help authorities in the arrest and conviction of the arsonist.
The Tiger Island Fire began August 22, and is still burning 14 days later. So far, it has destroyed 31,000 acres of land and 20 homes in Beauregard Parish, according to information released by state authorities. for some frame of reference, Tiger Island – is in Morgan City, Louisiana, which is about 156 miles southwest of Alexandria.
Louisiana Agriculture and Forestry Department Commissioner Mike Strain says he cannot talk directly about the arson investigation. But he did tell us a few important facts about the origin of the tiger island fire: “You know, we have certified arson investigators. We also work hand-in-hand with the state fire marshal’s office. Our investigators investigated and found evidence on the ground. That’s all I can say, as this is an ongoing case, found evidence. It was started intentionally in a secluded location on forested property.
More than 340 firefighting personnel have taken part in containment efforts at the Tiger Island Fire which now stands at 65 percent contained. That’s according to InciWeb, which bills itself as an interagency all-risk incident information management system of the federal government.
In all, fires have destroyed a total of 60,000 acres in Louisiana according to state officials. Strain says the Tiger Island Fire is not the only arson case. In fact, according to Strain, authorities have already arrested five suspected arsonists out of the hundreds of wildfires Louisiana has seen this year. And authorities are searching for three other potential arsonists.
Strain cautions that fire season is not over, especially considering our region’s severe drought and above-normal temperatures. “We did get a little bit of rain. We are very, very grateful for that. However, we are still having dry conditions. Fire can still break out. The burn ban is still in effect and we’re expecting a very dry September."
Strain also emphasizes that under the right conditions a wildfire can quickly flare up again, so vigilance is critical in fighting these fires.
Strain tells us there are three primary causes for wildfires. There’s arson, which we have just mentioned. Another cause is negligence, in which a person’s actions lead to fire. Those actions include everything from tossing a lit cigarette out your car window, to campfires left unattended, to burning debris. According to the National Park Service, nearly 85 percent of wildland fires are caused by people. That’s why Strain makes a plea to the public. “And the main message is, only you can prevent wildfires. So, we need everyone’s help. This is unprecedented conditions. These are unprecedented wildfires. We need everyone’s help to protect property and life.” Lightning is the third primary cause of wildfires.
Long-term projections on the threat of wildfires in the region are not encouraging. LSU Researchers now project that Louisiana’s wildfire risk will increase 25-percent by 2050, with the magnitude of property damage to grow by more than 100 percent.
Strain urges that anyone with vital information on these wildfires to contact the hotline for his Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry at 1-855-452-5323.