UPDATE: The State Fire Marshal Butch Browning said the string of church fires in the last 10 days is “confirmed suspicious.”
Investigators held a press conference at the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office this afternoon to address the destruction of three historically black Baptist churches. All three places of worship are over 100 years old.
Browning said there is a clear pattern, but it’s too soon to confirm arson. A conclusion to the agency’s investigation may take some time, he said.
“Investigating a fire is a very lengthy process,” Browning said. “It may take months to classify a fire. Sometimes it concludes without witness testimony.”
St. Landry Parish Sheriff Bobby Guidroz said his investigators believe the fires are related. The sheriff said he’s meeting with local pastors this afternoon to assist with the investigations and additional security.
“We’ll provide whatever it takes,” Guidroz said.
New 10’s Dalfred Jones will have more live tonight at our 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. newscasts.
Read the State Fire Marshal’s full press release.
ORIGINAL: Firefighters with Fire District #3 are currently working the scene of a church fire in Opelousas.
Officials have confirmed that the fire is located at Mount Pleasant Church in the 3900 block of LA Highway 182. St. Landry Fire District #3 contacted the State Fire Marshal’s Office at about 3:45 a.m. this morning.
This is the third church fire being investigated in St. Landry Parish in the past 10 days.
State Fire Marshal’s Office is also investigating a fourth church fire in Caddo Parish.
News 10’s Lora Lavigne reports that Louisiana State police currently have the road blocked off nearby the church’s location. Anyone heading that direction must be aware. Pastor of Mount Pleasant, Gerald Toussaint speaks on this morning’s fire saying “All I know is that the church is completley gone…Only the front of the church is standing”.
We will continue to provide updates as they become available.