An Opelousas woman and her three children are homeless after their house burned down Thursday morning, and authorities say they suspect the children’s father started the fire.

The victim reported around 8 a.m. that 30-year-old Victor Fontenot was physically abusing and holding her hostage at her home in the 500 block of James Street, said Sgt. Jody White, an Opelousas Police Department spokesman.

Fontenot was gone by the time police arrived, but neighbors noticed him at the home when the victim left to take her kids to school, White said. The house caught fire shortly after.

“Right now, we don’t have the arson charge on him,” White said, “but we have reports from neighbors that they did see him come back to the residence, at which point he became our suspect.”

White said the home is unlivable and none of the victim’s possessions were able to be salvaged.

The state Fire Marshal’s Office is collecting evidence that will be used to determine if Fontenot is connected to the arson, White said.

Fontenot, of 504 Narrow St. in Opelousas, faces one count each of home invasion, domestic abuse battery, child desertion, simple battery, simple assault and resisting an officer. He also faces two counts of false imprisonment, one from the Thursday morning incident, and another based on a previous instance in which the victim reported to police that he was holding her against her will.

White said the children were unharmed.