Pitkin, Louisiana Woman Arrested for Starting Wildfires That Ravaged Rapides, Vernon Parishes
PITKIN, La. (KPEL News) - A Rapides Parish woman has been arrested by state officials for allegedly starting a wildfire that spread through Rapides Parish and into Vernon Parish at the height of the state's heat wave and burn ban.
Laura Mclaughlin of Pitkin, Louisiana, was arrested on September 22 by investigators with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry’s (LDAF) Enforcement Division. She is accused of starting a wildfire that eventually consumed thousands of acres of timber and one residence.
More via KLFY:
Originating in Rapides Parish and burning into Vernon Parish, the fires consumed over 7,000 acres of timber and one residence. These fires raged for several days and continue to be monitored. The total value of the timber burned is estimated to be over 2 million dollars. The suppression cost associated with these fires is estimated at 2.7 million dollars.
Mclaughlin was booked in the Rapides Parish Jail on four counts of simple arson and one count of obstruction of justice. The bond was set at $25,000.
The crime of simple arson, where the damage amounts to five hundred dollars or more, carries a fine of not more than $15,000 and imprisonment at hard labor for not more than 15 years.
According to an LDAF press release, "fire crews and the Plainview Fire Department responded to multiple wildfires set in the Union Hill area in Rapides Parish. LDAF enforcement investigators, Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office detectives, and Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal deputies immediately began investigating the wildfires as arson was suspected to be the cause."
"The total value of the timber burned is estimated to be over 2 million dollars," LDAF said. "The suppression cost associated with these fires is estimated at 2.7 million dollars."
The KPEL News Team is working to provide additional coverage for Acadiana. Updates will be shared as they become available, so download the KPEL News app via Google Play or in the App Store and subscribe to breaking news alerts to get the latest information sent directly to your mobile device.
You can also use the KPEL app to submit a news tip, share a traffic update, or chat directly with our on-air team.
Be sure to bookmark our latest site, wearelafayette.net, where we provide more local news coverage as well as lifestyle and community features.
To report errors, omissions, or other concerns regarding the content above, send emails to email@example.com.