Fire inspectors still probing 8 June arsons

Though the last known arson fire in Lafayette was more than a month ago, fire detectives continue to look for those responsible for eight fires in nine days in June, officials said.

The fires were deliberately set in abandoned homes June 11-19.

Investigators have linked four of the blazes by where the fire originated — on the outside — and by accelerant found in all four blazes, Lafayette Fire Chief Robert Benoit said Friday.

The remnants of a fuel used to spread the four fires were found by accelerant-detecting dog units from the State Fire Marshal’s Office.

Benoit said the arsonist could be among Lafayette’s homeless population.

“The vacant structures on South Magnolia and Northwest Evangeline Thruway were frequently occupied by homeless individuals,” Benoit said.

Benoit also said some of the fires could have been started by copycat arsonists.

In the nine-day span, fires broke out in empty structures on Garfield Street, Dolese Street, South Magnolia Street, North Washington Street, Jefferson Boulevard, Northwest Evangeline Thruway, Armentor Street and North Pierce Street.

No one has been injured and there have been no suspicious blazes since the June 19 fire on North Pierce Street.

Benoit said firefighters have continued to interview residents in the affected neighborhoods.

“We’re looking for people to give us some help,” he said Friday afternoon.

All eight fires were set while it was dark and all but the first one — June 11 on Garfield Street — were set between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m.

Though there have been no injuries or deaths, there was at least one that could have been “catastrophic,” Benoit said.

A fire June 17 set at around 4 a.m. was in an old wooden home in the center of a mobile home park on Armentor Street. In the rear of the home is a meter that feeds natural gas to the 20 mobile homes in the park occupied by residents.

Two of the occupied mobile homes sit within 20 feet of the gas meter.

“If you’ve got gas coming out unregulated, you have the potential for a very bad fire,” Benoit said. “That could have been catastrophic.”

Anyone with information can call the Lafayette Fire Department or Crime Stoppers at (337) 232-TIPS.