NEW ROADS, LA (WAFB) - It was a busy morning for first responders in Pointe Coupee Parish, as they worked the scenes of seven house fires that happened during a 24-hour time period.
Nicholas Powell, 19, of New Roads was arrested on arson charges Wednesday night.
Investigators said early Wednesday morning they were dealing with a very suspicious situation. Smoke filled the skies above New Roads just before dawn, as houses burned in two parts of town and outside city limits.
The first fire sparked Tuesday on Dolph Street, where five people lived. The next fire sparked at an abandoned house on Lindsey Street around 10:30 p.m. Investigators have confirmed it was the result of arson.
Firemen responded to four more house fires Wednesday morning.
A fire at a vacant home on Clay Street was reported just after 5 a.m. It then spread to a home with a family inside. The two adults and three children were able to escape unharmed.
Minutes later, another abandoned home on St. Peter Street was reported to be on fire. The flames eventually turned that house to rubble.
A third abandoned house caught fire on Poydras Street just before 6 a.m. It was also destroyed by the flames. There was no information on the seventh fire.
"The public needs to take personal responsibility," said Louisiana Fire Marshal Butch Browning. "If you live in this community, you should be offended. The fact that someone might have set your homes on fire in the area; it puts your homes in danger."
Fire marshal's office investigators are treating each fire as a crime scene, as are deputies with the Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff's Office.
"Two of those buildings were occupied and five of them were abandoned," said Sheriff Bud Torres. "The good news is there are no fatalities and no injuries related to these several incidents."
While investigators work to find out if the other fires were intentionally set to these abandoned homes, Mayor Robert Myer said law enforcement is on the ground to make sure it doesn't happen again.
"We're doing a door-to-door canvas to locate any vacant homes, so that we know that we can secure those homes, so that there's not anybody that could be in harm's way because of any future fires," Myer explained.
Anyone with information about these fires is encouraged to call the Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff's Office at 225-694-3737.