Lafayette fire investigators say they have determined the fire which heavily damaged Greenwood Shoes on Jefferson Street in February was intentionally set.
According to a Lafayette Fire Department spokesman, the fire originated in the stock room of the business. The owner, David W. Leblanc, 56, was arrested Wednesday morning and charged with one count of arson with intent to defraud.
According to the spokesman, investigators believe insurance fraud was the motive. LeBlanc was booked into Lafayette Parish Correctional Center.
The fire resulted in an outpouring of nostalgia for the store, which was once at the center of Lafayette’s busy downtown business scene. In recent years, the area’s retail traffic has slowed, however, replaced with a nightlife centered focus.
Lafayette firefighters responded to Greenwood Shoes at 434 Jefferson St. around 10:30 a.m. on Feb. 4 after receiving a report of heavy smoke coming the business.
Due to the size of the building and close proximity to adjacent buildings, a second alarm was requested, resulting in a total of 10 fire trucks and 30 to 35 firefighters responding to the fire.
The fire was discovered in the stock room area of the shoe store and was extinguished with 30 minutes, leaving the interior of the building with heavy fire damage.
At the time Leblanc said that the business was closed Saturday evening before the Sunday morning fire. The tenant for the upstairs apartment, which received light smoke damage, was out of town.
The adjacent buildings sustained minor smoke damage.