A number of fires erupted across a Lousiana parish last month and is seemingly targeted towards Black churches. An investigation into the crimes has been launched, and early reports say the fires could be related.
The fires began on March 26 in Louisiana’s St. Landry Parish, a rural community north of Lafayette. Officials have not determined the cause of the fires, but have said they are unable to rule out the possibility of arson or that the three incidents were all related.
“There is clearly something happening in this community,” State Fire Marshal H. Browning said in a statement on Thursday. “That is why it is imperative that the citizens of this community be part of our effort to figure out what it is.”
The fires caused extensive damage to the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church and the Greater Union Baptist Church in the city of Opelousas, and the St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre. No deaths or injuries have been reported in either of the fires.
Separately, officials say a fourth fire was “intentionally set” on March 31 at the Vivian United Pentecostal Church, a predominately white church roughly three hours north in Caddo Parish.
The ATF and FBI have joined the investigation team.