MANY, LA (KSLA) - A former client of a Many business is accused of setting it on fire and nearly destroying it Tuesday evening.
The Louisiana fire marshal's office has confirmed to KSLA News 12 that 25-year-old Brett Thomas Shoemaker, a former client of ARC of Sabine, has been charged with one count each of simple arson, which is a felony, and criminal trespassing.
Shoemaker allegedly set fire to several combustible materials in the back storage room of the ARC of Sabine, which is in the 500 block of San Antonio Avenue, said Chief Deputy Brant Thompson, of the state fire marshal's office.
The building was unoccupied when the fire was set.
Firefighters responded just after 5:30 p.m. Tuesday and the volunteers battled the blaze until bringing it under control at 3 a.m. Wednesday, Many Fire Chief Scott Bowen said.
Shoemaker was found hiding in bushes outside the building when firefighters arrived to battle the blaze, Thompson said.
Shoemaker was acting suspicious, and Many police detained him on a different outstanding warrant, Thompson added.
Bowen said one-third of the building is a complete loss.
"The fire was in the walls and the ceiling and you have to tear all that out to get to it so it was kind of a hidden fire."
The fire reignited Wednesday morning.
Firefighters in Many used a backhoe to dig up several hot spots and hose them down until they were under control.
ARC of Sabine provides daily vocational rehabilitation to 78 disabled people throughout Sabine Parish, program director Roderick Davis said.
As a result of the fire, those people were forced to stay in their homes Wednesday. And 100 employees had no place to work Wednesday.
"I was disappointed. I was really disappointed," Davis said.
"Brett, he's a good kid and he's a client here," said Kenya Sweet, ARC of Sabine's medical assistant. "We work here with the special-needs people. And we're just going to try to help him as much as we can."
Shoemaker is in custody in Sabine Parish and faces significant prison time if convicted as charged, Thompson said.