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Holden man charged with misdemeanor in connection with weekend wildfire

October 7, 2010

A Holden man was cited for criminal negligence Oct. 7 in connection with a 450-acre Livingston Parish fire that burned the previous weekend, Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., said.
Charlie Sibley, 52, of 23697 Stafford Cemetery Road, was issued a summons by Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) enforcement investigators for violating Revised Statute 14:204 (Fire Raising on Lands of Another by Criminal Negligence), Strain said.
Sibley allegedly burned a debris pile at his house on the evening of Oct. 1 and extinguished it with water. On the morning of Oct. 2, Sibley left the premises and the fire rekindled, burning more than 450 acres of timberland owned by the Weyerhaeuser Company.
The timber damage was estimated at $500,000.
If convicted, Sibley faces a maximum fine of $300 or 30 days imprisonment, or both.
“Due to drought conditions, low humidity and high winds, a statewide outdoor burn ban was issued over the weekend,” Strain said. “It doesn’t take much for a small fire to get out of control.”
Since Oct. 1, Strain said LDAF fire crews have already responded to 164 fires that burned more 3,470 acres.
Aug.-Sept. 2009 LDAF reports show that 56 fires burned 152 acres. During the corresponding 2010 period, 407 wildland fires burned more than 3,458 acres, representing a 726 percent increase in fires and a 2,270 percent increase in acreage burned.
Strain said the LDAF extends wildfire detection and suppression services for 18.9 million acres. Of the 18.9 million acres, the LDAF receives wildfire detection and suppression funding from landowners for only 53 percent of the protected area.