Home of state’s chief technology officer catches fire as government deals with ransomware attack

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The home of the state’s chief technology officer caught on fire as the owner was working to counter a ransomware attack on Louisiana government computers and its network Monday.

According to WBRZ, The fire at the home of Richard Howze was reported around 4 p.m.  Tax records showed Howze owned the home on Terrace Avenue near South Eugene in the Garden District.

Howze also runs the Louisiana information technology system, which was the focus of the ransomware attack earlier in the day.

Howze is the Chief Information Officer for Louisiana state government, according to his biography posted on a state website.  He is the head of the Division of Administration’s Office of Information Technology and “plays a major role in matters related to the state’s IT infrastructure, assets, and resources,” the state said in its description of the job. 

Howze was seen on the scene of the fire at his home shortly after firefighters arrived.  Video from the scene shows smoke billowing from the roof of the home.

Firefighters said the fire was under control by about 5 p.m.  They spent an hour getting it contained.

The cause of the fire is unknown. The total cost of damages to the home are estimated to be around $300,000. The blaze is under investigation but firefighters said it appears the fire was unintentional. 

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