A string of arson fires have investigators with the Lafayette Fire department looking for answers. These incidents have triggered interest in addressing the blighted property issue around the parish.
For homeowners with blooming flowers and manicured lawns, the eyesore next door is a problem. In less than a week, six vacant homes were set on fire, all within the same time frame and close proximity. But, the reason is unknown. Blighted property is an issue the Upper Lafayette Economic Development Foundation is trying to tackle.
"I would like to have these recent incidents of arson serve as a wakeup call to the community,” said Jan Swift, executive director for ULEDF. “I think we all need to realize we have hundreds of abandoned properties in Lafayette Parish."
Some of the torched homes were unoccupied for many years and others were in the process of being torn down. It’s also not uncommon for them to be stripped of any remaining appliances left inside. Swift says there are many reasons for dilapidated property from a death in the family to financial issues. Over time the yard overgrows, the house falls apart and spirals out of control.
"What it does is it brings down property value, people don't feel safe in their homes and they don't deserve this,” said Swift.
The Lafayette Fire Department is still investigating who is responsible for the string of suspicious fires. Swift hopes for answers soon, before something like this happens again.
"I can only imagine that it's some troubled youth, perhaps homeless,” said Swift. “I can't see it as a concerted effort to burn down everything. But, I’ll be happy when the forensics comes up with some clues."
There were no injuries in any of the fires. If you have any information, contact Crimestoppers at 232-TIPS.
1808 Eraste Landry Rd, PO Box 90665,
Lafayette LA 70509