ARC of Sabine finds new home after fire

Updated: Nov. 15, 2017 at 2:59 PM CST
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Aerial view of ARC of Sabine Fire on November 7. (Source: Many Police Department)
Aerial view of ARC of Sabine Fire on November 7. (Source: Many Police Department)
ARC of Sabine's old day center still lies in ruins more than a week after the fire. (Source:...
ARC of Sabine's old day center still lies in ruins more than a week after the fire. (Source: Nick Lawton, KSLA)
ARC of Sabine staff members work to set up their new office. (Source: Nick Lawton, KSLA)
ARC of Sabine staff members work to set up their new office. (Source: Nick Lawton, KSLA)

ARC of Sabine staffers officially are back to work more than a week after fire nearly destroyed the social service agency's day center in Many.

Through the kindness of their neighbors, ARC of Sabine's leaders said they have a temporary office up and running in a home at 470 Main St.

"Today is our first day back, full day," program director Roderick Davis said. "Out of our roughly 90 clients that we have, we have all back today except for 10. And so we're up and running full-fledged."

Firefighters found the Arc of Sabine day center in the 500 block of San Antonio Avenue almost engulfed in flames just after 5:30 p.m. Nov. 7.

They battled the blaze until 3 a.m. Nov. 8 and still were putting out several hot spots later that afternoon.

ARC of Sabine's day center provided job training and other services daily to nearly 100 disabled people throughout Sabine Parish.

One of the agency's clients is accused of setting the fire.

Brett Thomas Shoemaker remains in Sabine Parish Detention Center, where the 25-year-old Pleasant Hill was booked the evening of Nov. 8 on one count each of simple arson and criminal trespassing. No bond has been set.

Shoemaker is suspected of entering the day center when it was empty then setting fire to combustible material in the back of the building's storage room, according to the Louisiana state fire marshal's office.

Authorities reported finding Shoemaker hiding in bushes when they arrived to put out the fire.

"When you have an unforeseen circumstance like this, you just do the best you can with the situation that's presented in front of you," ARC of Sabine's Assistant Program Director Tim Goodwin.

But Davis said that Wednesday's move is thanks to the retired owner of Boyen's Hardware next door to their old building. The owner let them lease property they owned at 470 Main St.

"It was one of the homes that they had and it was vacant and, actually, we were looking for a place to set up our administrative office fairly quickly," Davis said.

The owner of Boyen's Hardware is letting the agency lease that building for a new day center to replace the one that burned, he added, and they can use it the moment their inspection of it is finished.

"Because we'll have residents or clients inside the facility, there are certain codes that we have to meet for state licensing and so we're actually in the process of doing that," Davis said.

"You know, when we need help, people work," ARC of Sabine client Cesaer Cazaress said. "Sometimes I have to help them, you know what I'm saying?"

Davis also said they can renovate what's left of their burned day center once their insurance adjusters quote them a cost.

Should they receive the license to house their temporary day center inside Boyen's Hardware, Davis estimated they'd stay there for up to a year until renovations on their burned center are complete.

For now, Davis said, he just wants to thank the community for their support in getting them on this first step to recovery.

"The concern that our community has shown us, the support that they've shown us being down for these few days," he said with a smile. "We're probably doing as well as we could during the circumstances."

ARC of Sabine is keeping the same hours - 7 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday - at its temporary office at 470 Main St., Davis said.

Call (318) 256-2202 to learn more about ARC of Sabine's services.

Copyright 2017 KSLA. All rights reserved.