The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry’s (LDAF) fire crews responded to a wildfire on Gitty Up Lane in Leblanc on March 11. The investigation revealed that the fire was an act of arson, and it was set close to where someone had been cutting down hardwood trees for firewood.
As a result of the investigation by the LDAF enforcement agents, it was learned that twenty-four-year-old Bradley Ashworth of Kinder, La., and forty-seven-year-old Lance Templet of Iowa, La., went onto the property without permission and cut timber for firewood to sell at a later date. While Ashworth cut the firewood, Templet set a fire. The fire burned approximately 76 acres of timber.
Ashworth nor Templet owned the property or had permission to be on the property. An arrest warrant was issued for Ashworth for theft of timber and criminal trespass. Ashworth was arrested on March 25 and booked into the Allen Parish Jail on LDAF warrants and other outstanding Allen Parish warrants. His bond is $20,300.
Not more than $1,000 in firewood was cut from the property. However, the fire caused approximately $6,000 in damages to the timber.
“Timber is a valuable, long-term investment. It is imperative for landowners to pay close attention to activity on their property and immediately report a suspected crime,” said LDAF Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M. “LDAF enforcement agents take agriculture and forestry-related crimes seriously, and they will seek justice when individuals break the law.”
A warrant was issued for Templet for arson and criminal trespass. Templet has yet to be located. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Templet is urged to call the LDAF 24-hr hotline at 1-855-452-5323.