Weather & lightning may have started Live Oak Jr. High’s fire

The official cause of a fire that required nearly 16 firefighting trucks, engines & tankers still remains under investigation, but officials are now leaning towards a possible lightning strike.

The gym at Live Oak Jr. High School in Watson caught on fire last Friday, July 22nd just before 10am. Numerous Livingston Parish firefighters as well as neighboring fire departments responded within minutes getting the blaze under control by Noon.

The fire was contained to only the gym with firefighters successfully saving three adjacent buildings. The gym was deemed a complete loss.

Livingston Parish Fire District 4 was the lead on the fire and Chief James Wascom said, “Although we have not pinpointed the exact cause of the fire, we have ruled out foul play.”

Fire District 4’s investigator is working in conjunction with the State Fire Marshal’s Office to determine the exact cause.

“It’s a process of elimination,” said Chief Wascom. “We do have the school’s generator records and the school board has been very diligent in providing those to us. We’re not saying it’s the generator. We just want to make sure we can rule out the generator as a possible ignitor.”

Chief Wascom said there was plenty of lightning in the morning at/near the school and then there was a power failure.

“We still believe the fire will be weather related and awaiting some records on lightning strikes,” said Chief Wascom.

There were no injuries from the fire since children are still out for the summer.

Multiple agencies assisted in getting the fire under control as well as multiple firefighters who assisted in covering District 4’s area as they battled the blaze. Even after the fire was out after Noon, firefighters continued to fight hotspots till nearly 6:30pm.

The chief did say there is always the possibility that they cannot come up with an exact cause but their investigators are doing their best to determine the origin.  

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I'm an Emmy & Murrow Award winning investigative reporter who simply loves my job!

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