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Timber theft for firewood leads to arson arrest

Two men accused of cutting timber to sell as firewood on property on which they did not have permission; one has been charged with timber theft and the other is being sought for a fire that burned 76 acres of timber in LeBlanc, according to the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF).

LDAF fire crews responded to the fire on Gitty Up Lane on March11. The fire, located near a site where someone had been cutting down hardwood trees for firewood, was determined to have been caused by arson. Investigators arrested Bradley Ashworth, 24, of Kinder, on theft of timber and criminal trespass on March 25. He also was charged with a violation of protective order, according to the Allen Parish Sheriff's Office website. As of April 11 he remained jailed on $20,300 bond.

The second man, Lance Templet, 47, of Iowa, Louisiana, is believed to have started the fire and has a warrant issued for his arrest on arson and criminal trespass charges, according to LDAF.

About $1,000 of timber was cut to be sold as firewood, according to LDAF, and about $6,000 in damages to timber due to the fire was caused.

“Timber is a valuable, long-term investment. It is imperative for landowners to pay close attention to activity on their property and immediately report a suspected crime,” said LDAF Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M. “LDAF enforcement agents take agriculture and forestry-related crimes seriously, and they will seek justice when individuals break the law.”

Templet has not yet been apprehended. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is urged to call the LDAF 24-hour hotline at 1-855-452-5323.


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