Largest Wildfire in State’s History Result of Arson

Posted by on September 4, 2023 3:04 am

Louisiana state officials said the Tiger Island fire, the largest wildfire in the state’s history, was caused by arson.

The Louisiana Department of Agriculture & Forestry (LDAF) said the fire, which started August 22nd, burned more than 31,000 acres.

The LDAF determined the fire to be a result of arson and requested the public’s help to find a suspect.


CBS News reports:

The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry reported Saturday that it is asking for the public’s help in finding a suspect in the Tiger Island Fire. No details were provided on exactly how investigators believe the blaze started.

The Tiger Island Fire, which broke in southwestern Louisiana’s Beauregard Parish on Aug. 22, has so far burned 48.43 square miles and damaged or destroyed at least 20 homes and structures. It remains only 50% contained.

At the fire’s height, it forced the evacuation of about 1,200 people from the town of Merryville, located near the Texas border. Mandatory evacuation orders were lifted earlier this week. There have been no reports of injuries or fatalities from the blaze.

Louisiana, which has been contending with extreme summer heat and drought, saw an unprecedented 441 wildfires in August, officials said, stretching the state’s resources thin. Most of southwest Louisiana has been classified by the U.S. Drought Monitor as being in “exceptional drought.”

“This is unprecedented,” Mike Strain, the commissioner for Louisiana’s Department of Agriculture and Forestry, told reporters last month. “We’ve never had to fight this many fires simultaneously and at this duration.”

LDAF said in a press release:

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.

Investigators urge you to call law enforcement if you or anyone you know has any information regarding this fire. To report an arsonist or information regarding this fire, call the LDAF 24-hour hotline at 1-855-452-5323, the Beauregard Parish Sheriff’s Office at 337-462-8918, or the State Fire Marshal Office at 1-844-954-1221.

All calls to the LDAF hotline are anonymous, and the Louisiana Forestry Association is offering up to a $2,000 cash reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the crime.

The Tiger Island Fire burns east of Merryville, south of Hwy 190, and about five miles east of the Texas state line. The fire originated on August 22 in a wooded pine plantation and has consumed more than 31,000 forested acres. It threatened the town of Merryville and caused devastating damage to more than 20 homes and structures.

“Our state has never been this hot and dry and we have never had this many fires. We need you and your neighbors to help keep our communities and first responders safe. Adhere to the statewide burn ban. Don’t burn anything,” said Louisiana Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards.

In 2022, Gov. Edwards’ Climate Initiatives Task Force approved the state’s first ever Climate Action Plan.

From John Bel Edwards’ Office:

Gov. John Bel Edwards’ Climate Initiatives Task Force today unanimously approved the state’s first ever Climate Action Plan. Louisiana’s Plan contains a balanced set of recommendations to limit the severity of climate change while positioning the state to maintain its economic competitiveness in a low-carbon future. The science-based plan achieves the Governor’s goals of reaching net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050, putting the state in line with pledges made under the Paris Agreement, and by the federal government, 25 other states, and hundreds of companies in the private sector.

“Today represents a step forward on a new path toward a brighter future for our climate and for our economy,” said Gov. Edwards. “I am sincerely grateful for the leadership and commitment shown by every member of this Task Force. They confronted a difficult issue with immense implications for our state with dedication, commitment, and integrity. While creating consensus around these strategies was not always easy, they ultimately chose action over inaction. I thank them for their work and look forward to continuing the partnership as we move this plan into implementation.”

The Louisiana Climate Action Plan contains 28 strategies and 84 specific actions to reduce GHG emissions across the entire state economy. It was developed through a bottom-up approach over a 15-month process that was conducted over 49 public meetings. The Task Force members represent a variety of perspectives, including the government, private sector, academia, and environmental and community advocates. They were supported in their work by volunteers from diverse backgrounds organized into six sector committees representing different sectors of the state’s economy and four advisory groups focused on equity, science, legal, and financial considerations.