The largest wildfire in Louisiana history is still raging in a southwestern area of the state, and investigators now say that arson is to blame for it.
On August 22, a fire dubbed the Tiger Island Fire broke out in southwestern Louisiana, about five miles from the Texas border. The fire has since ravaged nearly 50 square miles, destroyed at least 20 structures, including homes, and forced all 1,200 residents of Merryville to evacuate their town temporarily. That evacuation order has since been lifted.
The latest reports indicate that the fire is currently about 50% contained.
Last Saturday, nearly two weeks after the fire first began, investigators with the Enforcement Division of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry had determined that the wildfire was the result of arson.
“Multiple wildfires have burned in Beauregard Parish in the past few weeks – most notably The Tiger Island Fire. Wildfire investigators with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry’s (LDAF) Enforcement Division have determined this fire to be a result of arson. LDAF investigators, Louisiana State Fire Marshal deputies, and the Beauregard Parish Sheriff’s Office detectives are actively investigating this matter,” an LDAF press release said in part.
Officials indicated that the fire was started in an isolated area of forested property, but did not release many details regarding the alleged act of arson, citing an ongoing investigation. Thus far, no suspect has been publicly identified. The LDAF is offering a $2,000 cash reward “for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the crime,” the press release said.
The Tiger Island Fire is just one of at least 440 wildfires to occur in the state of Louisiana in the month of August alone. One person has died as a result of the wildfires, CBS Mornings reported, though not from the Tiger Island Fire specifically.
High temperatures, unusually dry conditions, and winds of up to 15 mph have contributed to the particularly destructive wildfire season in Louisiana this year. “This is unprecedented,” said LDAF Commissioner Mike Strain. “We’ve never had to fight this many fires simultaneously and at this duration.”
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