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Residents: Opelousas barricade is 'safety hazard'

barricade web pic
Posted at 12:17 AM, Jan 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-04 07:12:33-05

OPELOUSAS, L.a. — Some neighbors in St. Landry Parish are calling for action after a close call this weekend.

A truck caught fire on New Year's Eve and neighbors say first responders were held up getting to the scene.

It's still unclear what sparked the truck fire.

Fire officials say the investigation is still underway, but for neighbors in the Shawnee Hills subdivision, including Alexis Thomas and her family, the flames were literally too close to home.

"It's heartbreaking that we could've lost everything," Thomas said.

Shortly after calling 911, they saw crews behind a cement barricade on a road that they say is the quickest way into their neighborhood — but caught up in a "right of way" dispute — so firefighters had to take a detour.

"That's my main concern, just my kids, you know, being away from them, having to work and not knowing if they're going to be okay because there's a barricade blocking the road," Thomas said. "And somebody's trying to come and help them — that's what's scary that part, possibly losing everything that you've worked so hard for."

We took Thomas's concerns to St. Landry Parish President Jessie Bellard who acknowledged there's an issue of public safety, but also an issue of who owns the property where the barricade sits.

"From a public safety standpoint that road should be open, and let the traffic flow through, especially emergency vehicles, but that's not my call," Bellard said. "So it's a private piece of land that people can't pass on because the owner does not want anybody passing on it, nothing I can do about it."

It's been an ongoing issue that neighbors in Shawnee Hills say they want to have resolved.

"I've had multiple friends almost run into that barricade," said Jacob Goff, who has lived in the neighborhood with his family for six years.

He told KATC this is because the barricade is low to the ground with no reflectors to give oncoming traffic a warning. It's a problem, he said, is especially prevalent at night time.

"It's not fair not knowing why it's there, nobody wants to give you straight answers," Thomas said. "Knowing my neighbors have been fighting this for years and I don't only want justice for myself, I want justice for them too — they deserve it, too."

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