A fire that destroyed a vacant house on Taft Street on Thursday night was ruled an arson by Baton Rouge Fire Department investigators.
It’s the 79th arson in Baton Rouge this year, said fire department spokesman Mark Miles. Last year there were 155 arsons, he said.
Firefighters arriving at midnight at 399 Taft St. found the house fully involved in flames and had the blaze under control in about 15 minutes. The house, valued at $25,000, was a complete loss, according to a Fire Department news release.
While neighbors complained of vagrants living in the house, no one was in the house when firefighters arrived, Miles said, and nobody was injured. Vegetation had grown profusely around the dwelling.
When asked to speculate about why someone would want to set fire to an abandoned house with no utilities, Miles said, “That’s the million dollar question you just asked.”
He said investigators ruled out the possbility the blaze could have been sparked accidentally— for example, by an errant cigarette ember.
“That’s how you know it’s arson when there are no normal sources around to actually accidentally start a fire,” he said. Fuel sources, such as gas and electricity, would normally have to be present to feed a large accidental fire, he said.