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A fire than burned nearly 300 acres of pine timber east of Abita Springs remains under investigation, and the Louisiana Forestry Association is offering up to $2,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for setting it, according to the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry.

The fire broke out last Wednesday on John Bennett Road off Louisiana 36. It took seven house for firefighters with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry and St. Tammany Fire Protection District No. 7 to get the fire under control.

Damage to the property, owned by Weyerhauser, is estimated at $200,000.

"Right now, it is uncertain whether the fire was intentionally set or whether it was an act of negligence, " Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain said. "We’d like to speak with anyone who may have information regarding this incident."

If convicted of arson, those responsible could face up to 15 years at hard labor and/or up to a $15,000 fine. A conviction of negligence is a misdemeanor and carries a fine of no more than $300 and/or up to 30 days behind bars. 

Anyone with information can contact the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry at (225) 925-4500 or the Wildfire Hotline 1-855-452-5323 and can remain anonymous.


Follow Sara Pagones on Twitter, @spagonesadvocat.