Vandals set excavator ablaze in St. Charles

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 11, 2009



LULING – Authorities in St. Charles Parish said Thursday that a small fire set by vandals caused about $4,800 worth of damage to the interior cab of a parish-owned excavator.

Renee Allemand-Simpson, public information officer for St. Charles Parish, said an unidentified item was placed on the seat in the cab of a long-arm excavator and then set on fire. Simpson said the excavator was being used in a sewer improvement project earlier this week in Luling’s Willowdale subdivision.

“The excavator had been in place on the site for about three weeks while work crews were installing new sewer lines and a sewer lift station near Cottage Drive and Beaupre Drive,” Simpson said. “When they went back to the site Tuesday, they noticed the damage.”

Simpson said initial damage estimates stand at about $4,800, but that number could increase once repairs begin. She said the entire cab of the excavator would have to be replaced, but the damage could have been worse.

“When they set fire to whatever was on the chair, the vandals closed the door to the cab,” Simpson said. “This actually helped keep the fire contained to that area and prevented it from completely destroying the equipment.”

The fire is the latest in a string of vandalization incidents on parish property in the past year. Simpson said vandals caused about $3,500 worth of damage at Luling’s Kellogg pump station when someone cut through a fence and removed two pieces of equipment used to detect water levels. Simpson said the vandals also jammed locks to the control room with nails and glue.

“These incidents cause unnecessary project delays and cost thousands of dollars to taxpayers,” Simpson said.”

Authorities with the St. Charles Sheriff’s Office said no arrests have been made in either incident. Parish officials are asking anyone with any information on the vandalism or other suspicious activity around parish equipment to call the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office at 985-783-6807 or Crimestoppers at 1-877-903-STOP.