Deadly Louisiana Fire: Property Owner Found Dead in Burning Field in Alexandria

By Liora Hawthorne
Published October 24, 2023

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Alexandria, Louisiana – The investigation into a brush fire in the Alexandria area, resulting in the death of a male property owner, is currently underway by State Fire Marshal (SFM) deputies. The incident occurred on Monday, October 23, when Rapides Parish Fire District #2 responded to a call regarding a brush fire on Twin Bridges Road, also known as LA 488. While working to extinguish the fire, firefighters discovered the body of a man in the burning field behind the property.

The victim, believed to be a 66-year-old homeowner, was found amidst the large field and fire. After assessing the scene and gathering witness statements, deputies have determined that the fire originated from a burn pile of hay near a trash pile in the field behind the home. It is important to note that at the time of the incident, Rapides Parish was under a statewide burn ban due to extremely dry conditions, low humidity, and strong winds, which facilitated the rapid spread of the fire. However, authorities are still investigating how the man became a victim of the fire.

State Fire Marshal Chief Dan Wallis expressed his sadness over the situation and emphasized the seriousness of the current fire danger. Despite some parishes opting out of the burn ban due to changing conditions, several have reinstated the ban as conditions worsen. Chief Wallis warned against engaging in any fire-related activities, as they can lead to tragedy for individuals, loved ones, neighbors, and the community as a whole.

The statewide burn ban has been in effect since August 7, with the latest update on September 29 allowing parish leadership to choose whether to enforce the ban and fire chiefs to grant exceptions on a case-by-case basis. The ban encompasses the use of open flames in various settings such as fire pits, campfires, barrels, bonfires, and burn piles. It is recommended to practice safe outdoor cooking by utilizing contained equipment like grills and smokers designed for cooking purposes, placing them on flame-resistant surfaces with access to water or a fire extinguisher nearby.

SFM indicated that while mowing and yard work are not banned, it is preferable to avoid these activities, as well as driving or operating hot machinery, near dry, brown, and dead grass, which is highly flammable. This information aims to inform the public about the ongoing investigation, highlight the dangers of fire in current conditions, and provide guidance on fire-related activities during the statewide burn ban.