State officials reported Saturday that An investigation determined that the largest wildfire in the history of the state of Louisiana was set.
The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry asked for the public's help in finding a suspect in the Tiger Island fire, although no details were provided on how exactly investigators believe that started the fire.
The Tiger Island Fire, which broke out in Beauregard Parish, southwest Louisiana, on August 22, has burned to 48.43 square miles and has damaged or destroyed at least 20 homes and structures. It is only 50% contained.
The height of the fire forced the evacuation of about 1,200 people from the city of Merryville, located near the border with Texas. There have been no reports of injuries or deaths from the fire.
Louisiana, which has been dealing with extreme summer heat and drought, suffered an unprecedented 441 wildfires in August, officials said.
“This is unprecedented. “We've never had to fight this many fires simultaneously and for this duration,” Mike Strain, commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, told reporters last month.
A reward of 2 has been offered. "Although we're pretty good and practiced in emergency response, not so much in wildfire," said Gov. John Bel Edwards.
La semana pasada, Edwards declared a state of emergency due to the extreme heat and believes some of the fires could have been prevented if residents had complied with the state's burning ban that has been in place for weeks.
Resources have been depleted as firefighters work in hot climates and use local water sources in a community that is accustomed to floods and hurricanes instead of droughts and fires.
With the conditions hot and dry, state and fire officials emphasize that something as minor as hot exhaust pipes on the grass, cigarette butts thrown out of a car window, and sparks from dragging trailer safety chains can quickly escalate to massive devastation.