SFD lays out Tuesday arson timeline

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - The Shreveport Fire Department has constructed a timeline of the seven apparent arson fires set Tuesday morning in downtown Shreveport. 38 year old Gary Vinson has allegedly confessed to setting all seven of them, including the three-alarm blaze that claimed the historic headquarters for the Shreveport Regional Art's Council.

Multiple fire crews, as many as 15 of the city's 22 fire stations responded to the fires, all within a half mile radius. According to the timeline, the fire-setting spree began at 3:50 a.m. and all were contained after 8:00 a.m.  In the end, the damage was substantial, included six (6) vehicles and three (3) buildings, but an estimate of the total damages has not yet been completed.

Fire Spree Timeline:

●     At 3:50 a.m. the Shreveport Fire Department was dispatched to an auto fire at Snow Street and Louisiana Avenue, across the street from the Jefferson Apartments.  While responding to that fire, Engine 1 spotted flames coming from the windows on the east side of the Shreveport Regional Arts Council Building (SRAC) located at 800 Snow Street.  At 3:58 a.m., fire dispatch was notified to send units to respond to that fire.

●     The first unit arrived on-scene at the Shreveport Regional Arts Council Building, 800 Snow Street, at 4:02 a.m. -- 3 minutes after receiving the call.  At 4:08 a.m., the On-scene Incident Commander (IC) called for a second alarm to provide additional manpower and resources.  At approximately 4:20 a.m., the IC assessed the situation and ordered a defensive attack and instructed all personnel to immediately vacate the building because of the instability of the building and the threat of a flashover (total fire involvement of the structure).  By 4:59 a.m., additional manpower and resources were needed as the fire broke through the roof and Fire Chief Brian Crawford ordered a third alarm. In all, 15 units-approximately 70 fire personnel -- were needed to secure and contain this fire.  Firefighters battled the blaze until after sun-up this morning.

●     At 4:20 a.m., a local reporter assigned to cover the story at SRAC, noticed trash burning near a downtown building and contacted     9-1-1.  The Shreveport -Bossier Rescue Mission Warehouse, 824 Wilson Avenue, was the scene of the third fire.  Fire crews arrived on scene at 4:29 a.m. and discovered multiple fires in the parking lot of the business: a small fire near the main building and five vehicles burning behind the building.  The fire spread from the five vehicles unto a detached storage building on the property. Only the exterior of the building sustained fire damage. Fire crews had this fire under control by 4:50 a.m.  Engine 2 from the North Market station was called in to assist Central Station.

●     At 5:17 a.m., the Shreveport Police Department contacted 9-1-1 and reported the fourth fire in the 1000 block of Texas Avenue.  The actual location of the fire was in an alley way behind the Antioch Baptist Church, 1057 Texas Avenue.  Fire crews arrived on scene at 5:25 a.m. to discover cross ties burning behind the church.  In addition, a small fire was spotted against the south exterior wall of what was believed to be a vacant building but later was identified as the Second Chance Temple of Deliverance Ministries Church.  Those fires were contained by 8:08 a.m.

According to Fire Chief Brian A. Crawford, "The multiple fires challenged our reserve resources down to six (6) engine companies covering the entire city.  The remaining units were equally dispersed throughout the city's six fire battalions to provide emergency coverage based on our standing protocols for such actions. Additionally, we requested and received confirmation from Bossier City Fire Department and Caddo Fire Districts to stand-by as needed. The time of day helped our resource situation, as the middle and early morning are our slowest call volume times. Our Fire Investigators, working in conjunction with the Shreveport Police Department, did an outstanding job in developing a suspect who had a prior history of arson." 

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