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Bastrop man accused of setting numerous wildfires

Posted: 12:31 PM, Aug 13, 2018
Updated: 2018-08-13 13:31:51-04

A Bastrop man has been booked with arson, accused of setting fires that burned almost 30 acres of timber.

Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry investigators arrested John Philbert Bower, 55, and booked him with four counts of arso; the Morehouse Parish Sheriff’s Office booked him with three more counts of arson.

Bowers is accused of setting numerous fires between July 20 and August 3, a spokesman fro the LDAF says.

LDAF firefighters and Morehouse Parish volunteer firefighters extinguished a total of seven wildfires near the Arkansas state line during that period, the spokesman said. The fires burned 27.6 acres of timber. Investigators suspect three fires were set on July 22 alone.

“Arson is a serious crime that can quickly get out of control. While property is damaged or lost, it can also threaten people’s lives, their homes and valuable timberland,” said LDAF Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M.

Bowers is also a suspect in several arsons in Ashley County, Arkansas.

If convicted of arson where the damage amounts to $500 or more, penalty includes a fine up to $15,000 and jail time at hard labor for up to 15 years.

The LDAF conducted a joint investigation with the Morehouse Parish Sheriff’s Office, the City of Bastrop’s Fire Prevention Office, the Arkansas Agriculture Department Law Enforcement Division, and the Ashley County, Arkansas Sheriff’s Office.