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Fire!

Fire Marshal Investigates Friday Autrey House Fire
The Ruston Daily Leader, Feb. 25, 2001
By Duane M. Baillio, Staff Writer
Used with permission
Submitted by J. C. Waggoner,
Mrs. S. D. Huffman

DUBACH- The state Fire Marshal's Office has opened an investigation into an apparent arson fire that damaged the Autrey House Museum just after midnight Friday morning.

The Lincoln Parish Sheriff's Office notified the Fire Marshal's Office Friday afternoon, arson investigator Greg Greco said. 

"There doesn't seem to be much structural damage," he said.  Sheriff's Detective Steve Rogers said the fire appeared to be of a suspicious nature, and is currently under investigation. No arrests have been made.

The Autrey House, a dogtrot home on the National Registry of Historic Places, is one of the oldest structures in Lincoln Parish.  The home was donated to the Lincoln Parish Museum by the J.C. Drewett estate in 1985.

Dogtrot houses were constructed in the 1840's with an open-air, center hallway running the length of the building with rooms on either side. The rooms of the house open up into the central hallway, but the hallway is open to create a breezeway that provided relief from the summer's heat.

The Lincoln Parish Fire Protection District No. I responded to the 12:15 a.m. blaze with five trucks and over 20 volunteer firefighters after receiving an automatic alarm, Chief Neill Kirkland said.  

"The fire was put out quickly," he said.

Flames burned through the wall of the hallway into one of the rooms of the house, causing only minor structural damage, he said.  Fire damaged the wall and ceiling in both the hallway and one room. One piece of furniture sustained water damage as fire crews put out the fire. 

Susan Roach, a member of  Autrey House Board of Directors, credited board member, T. R. Huffman, with helping save the historic house.  Huffman received a call from the alarm company and went to the house with the keys, allowing firefighters to enter the room damaged by the fire, she said.

"This is not the first time the 152-year-old home has been vandalized, according to Roach.  After the home was restored nearly a decade ago, vandals spray-painted graffiti on the the outer walls of the building, she said.

"To think this house survived for over 150 years with cooking on a woodstove and a fireplace...all that time without a fire and then to have someone set this fire," Roach said.  "I think its sad. We're trying to preserve this for future generations.

"Its a real community symbol, not just for Dubach, but for Lincoln Parish."

AUTREY HOUSE MUSEUM FIRE,#5

These photographs were submitted by Susan Roach, Folklorist

Louisiana Regional Folklife Program
English Department, P. O. Box 3162, TS
Louisiana Tech University
Ruston, LA  71272
318-257-2728
Fax: 318-257-4376

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