Arson Cause for Mansion Fire - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

Arson Cause for Mansion Fire

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ALEXANDRIA, La - Police have a 13-year-old girl in custody accused of setting a historic mansion in Alexandria on fire Sunday night.

Dozens of firefighters fought the blaze through the night trying to save a piece of Alexandria history. News Channel Five's Brooke Buford was on the scene. She has the story, the morning after.

Magaline Johnson has seen the neighborhood change in her 50 years on Florence Avenue. But one thing she never thought she'd see gone is the historic home next door.

"I was sick because I could not believe it," she said. 

Around 9 o'clock Sunday night, the vacant Thompson-Hargis mansion burst into flames. Firefighters struggled to keep the fire from destroying the entire home, trying to salvage this piece of Alexandria history for the neighbors on the street.

"What I love about that home is whenever there's family members or friends visiting me, they always love to take pictures of the home, ask questions about the home and it's just something that's going to be missed in this area of this block in Alexandria," said Cynthia Garnett, another neighbor.

Fire investigators are calling it arson - a tragedy, says history expert, Megan Lord, because it was a landmark home.

"Really what's significant about this house is that it's in the neoclassical style," said Lord, director of the Alexandria Historic Preservation Commission. "But, much more than just the architectural significance is the significance of its history. It represents and really was one of the last remaining examples of Alexandria's golden age in the 1920s and '30s when the town was booming from the lumber business. And, so with the loss of this home, we really lose one of the physical reminders of that period of our history."

Lord says its important for all generations to understand the significance of preserving our history.

"We need to value our neighborhoods no matter if they're old or new and protect what history we have, even what is a newer neighborhood will one day be historic," she said. "So, it's important to protect and preserve."

Johnson says she's heartbroken over the loss. But, she hopes one day they'll be able to rebuild and renovate the old mansion for future generations.

Fire investigators say they're still working on the case. They don't expect anymore arrests.

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