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Natchitoches Parish man accused of arson

A Natchitoches Parish man has been charged with arson by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture & Forestry (LDAF) following a multiagency investigation.

Billy Ellerbe Jr. was nabbed in New Orleans by the U.S. Marshal Service Violent Offender Task Force on March 17 after having fled the parish as LDAF and Natchitoches Parish Sheriff's Office investigators attempted several times to apprehend him.

Several roadside and forest fires that threatened timberland, homes and a cemetery. The fires also caused traffic issues on Interstate 49, surrounding roads and overpasses.

Ellerbe was booked in the Orleans Parish jail as a fugitive and extradited to the Natchitoches Parish jail. He is charged with one count of arson by LDAF investigators for multiple fires set on Jan. 27, one count of simple littering, and an additional count of arson by NPSO investigators for a fire set on February 10. At this time, no bond has been set for the LDAF charges. However, a $25,000 bond has been set for the NPSO charges.

“Arson is a very serious crime and poses a great risk to both life and property,” said Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Mike Strain. “Whether the arson is unintentional or deliberate, LDAF’s Forestry Enforcement Division works closely with partner agencies across the state to bring offenders to justice.”

All persons accused of any crime are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. The public is urged to report all forestry-related crimes to LDAF’s 24-hour hotline at 1-855-452-5323.

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