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Big Cane Fire Was Difficult To Extinguish

Photograph: Big Cane Fire in St. Landry Parish, LA. (Photograph by Van Reed – St Landry Parish Government.)

Editor/Consulting Writer

A rural fire that burned for nearly 15 hours in the Big Cane area of St. Landry Parish last week covered nearly 100 acres and involved 60 firefighters from five departments, according to parish president Jessie Bellard.

Bellard said during a Friday interview that the blaze which eventually moved into a wooded area, became difficult to extinguish due to its location.

“A landowner who began burning trees in his backyard, started a fire that got out of hand. Once that happened, the fire moved into the woods nearby and that’s when we started having real problems,” Bellard added.

Responders fighting the fire found it difficult to fight through the tree lines in Jim Camp Road in order to prevent a rapid spreading condition,” Bellard mentioned.

On Thursday the parish announced the reissuing of a parish burn bun that had been lifted about 24 hours before the Big Cane fire began.

The fire at no time threatened any structures and there have been no reports of injuries connected with the incident, Bellard added.

However the fire itself proved resilient.

“It was very difficult to put the fire out. Once it spread into the woods, it was a matter of the firefighters having to clear away areas in order to keep things from spreading too quickly,” Bellard added.

Bellard estimated that the fire started about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon. After firefighters from Fire Districts 7 and 3 and units from Krotz Springs, Palmetto and Port Barre began tackling the blaze, Bellard said the fire was eventually contained and extinguished by early Thursday morning.

Workers from the Louisiana Agriculture and Forestry provided essential equipment for reversing the momentum of the fire, Bellard said.

“The People from Ag and Forestry brought in heavy equipment that included six bulldozers that removed brush and kept the blaze from moving through more open areas.

“I thought everyone did a good job of containing it, but having access to those bigger dozers really helped,” said Bellard.

Bellard said at this point the parish is unable to issue a citation to the landowner that Bellard indicated is responsible for starting the fire.

“There was no burn ban in effect at the time. There is nothing (authorities) can do since there is nothing the landowner was doing illegally,” Bellard said.

Due to the fire, Bellard was not present at the Wednesday night Parish Council meeting.

At the end of that meeting, council members voted to have Bellard reinstitute the parish-wide burn ban which had been in effect until he decided to lift it earlier last week.

While lifting the burn ban initially last week enabled individuals to begin burning trash and debris, Bellard said his removal order also required parish residents to use discretion when considering starting a fire.

“I think a lot of people didn’t really understand that just because (the burn ban) was lifted, it didn’t mean they could do anything without considering the consequences,” Bellard noted.