Covering Louisiana

Jan 6, 2011 9:53 AM by Kate Durio

Volunteer Firefighters Arrested in Connection with Oakdale Arsons

Five volunteer firefighters in Oakdale have been arrested for arson. Louisiana State Fire Marshal H. "Butch" Browning announced Wednesday that six adults and four juveniles were arrested on several charges relating to nine arson fires within Allen Parish. Five of the adults arrested were members of the Oakdale Volunteer Fire Department.

A joint investigation conducted by the State Fire Marshal's Office, Allen Parish Sheriff's Office and the Oakdale Police Department revealed that eight fires occurred between the months of April and December of 2010. The fires occurred at five unoccupied structures, one vehicle and three wild land areas. All fires were determined to be intentionally set and the work of arsonists. Investigators developed suspects and after questioning obtained multiple confessions. There were no injuries reported in any of these fires.

The five volunteer firefighters arrested were Michael Hill, Jeremy Sheppard, Paul Laird, Hanna Ware and Christie Doyle. Michael Hill, 17, was charged with two counts of simple arson and conspiracy to commit arson. Jeremy Sheppard,17, was charged with simple arson. Paul Laird, 20, was charged with simple arson and conspiracy to commit arson. Hanna Ware, 19, was charged with simple arson and conspiracy to commit arson. Christie Doyle, 18, was charged with four counts of simple arson and conspiracy to commit arson.

Harold D. Elkins Jr., 18, was charged with aggravated arson and conspiracy to commit arson. Elkins was not a volunteer firefighter. Four Juveniles will also be charged by the Allen Parish District Attorney.

"We will not tolerate when a person sworn to protect others sets fires. They did this to be a hero and respond to the fires they set. The Fire Chief had a suspicion and called for the investigation, he did the right thing and we can assure the public that they are protected. The Oakdale Fire Department does an excellent job of protecting their community; the actions of these few do not represent the many dedicated members of this department," said the Fire Marshal.

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