ST. MAURICE, La. - One small community in Winn parish is fed up with fire, and so is local law enforcement.
The town of St. Maurice has bee hit with 14 structure fires this year alone.
News Channel 5's Kathleen Witte visited the scene today to find out what the parish is doing to catch the firebug.
Eric Evans has lived in the small community of St. Maurice his whole life. But lately, he says he doesn't feel as safe in his home as has in the past.
I don't know, they keep burning houses down and stuff," says Evans. "They need to quit, whoever it is."
The houses right next door to Evans, and across the street, have all burned down. And those are just a few of the 14 structure fires in St. Maurice this year.
"Almost burned mine down," Evans says. "With stuff flying on top of my house, debris."
The fire marshal says this is the work of an arsonist. The problem has already escalated from grass fires over the last three years to structure fires in 2012.
So far, all the buildings burned have been abandoned or unoccupied, but the Winn Parish sheriff's department is worried that won't always be the case.
"Our concern is that because there's an elderly population in the St. Maurice area, they could slip and cause a house to catch on fire with someone in it," says Winn Parish Sheriff Cranford Jordan. "And that's not acceptable, to have someone killed in their own home."
That's why they've started a task force with the state police and state fire marshal to help put an end these crimes, and make an arrest.
"It's malicious," says state fire marshal H. "Butch" Browning. "It's a local crime. People who are familiar with the area. And I think as this case evolves, we're going to solve it because the people of the community are going to provide us that valuable information."
Investigators are now offering a $5,000 reward to anyone with information that could lead to a conviction.
"Eventually we will get them," says Sheriff Jordan. "Your time is limited."
Eric Evans says, he doesn't understand why someone would do this. And, he doesn't think it's very neighborly--or very funny.
"I don't think they want to hurt nobody," says Evans. "But I guess it's some kind of joke to them, I don't know. But it needs to stop, whoever it is."
If you have information about these fires, you can call the sheriff's office, or leave an anonymous tip online.
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