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Parish Residents Receive Fines, Citations For Fires

Featured Photograph by Layne Herpin.

Editor/Consulting Writer

St. Landry Parish officials are already issuing citations and fines for parish residents who have allegedly violated a statewide burn ban declaration.

Parish president Jessie Bellard said on Friday that the parish has issued at least six citations accompanied by fines of $250 each in connection with containing a series of rural fires which occurred over the past five days.

Bellard said the burn ban ordinance introduced over a week ago gives parish officials the authority to issue fines and citations.

“The burn ban was included in a general executive order. It’s considered to be a civil penalty and not a criminal penalty. The state set the amount of the fine,” Bellard said.

It’s obvious, Bellard added, that some parish residents seem to be ignoring the restrictions put in place by the burn ban.

“We have tried to do our best to warn the people in the parish about the burn ban, but some of them just won’t adhere. People are still burning stuff (in St. Landry) and sometimes these fires on properties are going to get out of hand due to weather conditions,” Bellard said during a telephone interview.

The parish plans to put the revenue from the fines back into the general fund budget, said Bellard.

A persistent brush fire off Bertrand Road and U.S. 190 west of Opelousas required responses from several fire departments on Wednesday and Thursday, Bellard has said.

That blaze apparently also burned several structures on Wednesday afternoon. Then firefighters responded again to the same area on Thursday afternoon after it became apparent that a fire had restarted in the same area where the blaze first began.

There have also been fires in St. Landry off Chance Road and La. 71 and another on Don Guilbeau Road, Bellard said.

Five fire departments were required to extinguish the Sunday fire which burned approximately 20 acres on Sunday around Chance Road.

Bellard said State Fire Marshal investigators are still determining the origins of the Bertrand Road-area fires.

The winds which picked up parish wide on Wednesday and Thursday could have been responsible for causing the Bertrand Road fire to spread more quickly, said Bellard.

Photograph by Layne Herpin.