Update, 8:45 a.m. Monday: Baton Rouge fire investigators have arrested Charles Irwin Oby, 65, in connection with the fire on Perkins Road near the Essen/Staring intersection Sunday. Oby has been booked with simple arson and criminal trespassing.
Baton Rouge Fire Department officials said a Sunday afternoon fire that destroyed a vacant home, damaged a neighboring Burger King restaurant and shut down Perkins Road was the work of an arsonist.
“Nobody was living at the home so someone had to set it,” said Curt Monte, a Fire Department spokesman, of the blaze that consumed the home on Perkins Road near the Essen/Staring intersection. “The fire was definitely arson.”
The blaze started about 4:45 p.m. Sunday, Monte said.
The fire soon engulfed the unoccupied one-story house, sending flames shooting above the trees and employees at the neighboring Burger King scurrying out the door to call 911.
“My heart was beating fast, fast, fast,” said Keshawn Harris, a Burger King employee who said an assistant manager yelled at her and another employee to flee as the fire threatened the restaurant.
Heat radiated from the burning house, causing moderate damage to the Burger King, Monte said. Firefighters used ladders to scale the restaurant, while water and debris were scattered near the franchise’s front doors.
Harris and other employees said no customers were inside the restaurant at the time of the fire.
Firefighters spent more than an hour pouring water onto the vacant structure and shut down Perkins Road east of Essen Lane/Staring Lane, finally bringing the fire under control at 5:42 p.m., Monte said.
No one was injured in the fire, Monte said.
Mathilda Livous, who watched firefighters battle the flames from the Burger King parking lot, said the home belonged to her late father.
“I was born in that house about 80 years ago,” Livous said.
Livous, who lives nearby and was contacted by friends and told of the fire, said the house as well as a neighboring house on Perkins Road have been vacant for “two or three years” and that electricity and gas to them have been disconnected.
Anyone with information about this fire may call Baton Rouge Fire investigators at (225) 354-1419.
Follow Bryn Stole on Twitter, @BrynStole.