Man Arrested for Allegedly Starting Large Washington Parish Fire

Published 9:48 am Monday, August 14, 2023

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A 34-year-old Independence man was taken into custody early Saturday morning following allegations that he initiated a significant wildfire in Washington Parish the previous evening. Authorities have charged Kenneth Beaubouef with fire raising, criminal negligence, and violating the statewide burn ban.

According to records, Beaubouef was apprehended and booked into the Washington Parish jail at 1:27 a.m. The arrest was a result of investigations that linked him to the start of a large fire that swept through an area near Mount Hermon along Highway 1056.

The fire, which was described as “massive” by the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office, prompted urgent warnings to residents Friday evening. The blaze led to the deployment of multiple fire departments to combat the flames and mitigate its effects. Authorities advised the public to avoid the area for safety reasons and to refrain from driving through the affected zone.

Mike Strain, Commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry explained that the burned area contained young plantation pine, estimating a complete loss in timber value. The affected timber, aged between 12 to 15 years, represents a substantial monetary setback that the responsible party will likely be obligated to compensate. Strain emphasized the importance of restitution in such cases.

As wildfires continue to pose a threat to communities, the consequences of irresponsible actions leading to such events are being taken more seriously by authorities.

The ongoing burn ban in Louisiana underscores the urgent need to prevent such incidents, especially during periods of elevated fire risk.