Residents: the Opelousas barricade “security risk”

OPELOUSAS, La – Some neighbors in St. Landry Parish are calling for action after a call closed this weekend.

A truck caught fire on New Years Eve and neighbors said first responders were delayed to get to the scene.

It’s still unclear what started the truck blaze – firefighters say investigation is still ongoing – but for neighbors on the Shawnee Hills Subdivision, including Alexis Thomas and his family – the flames were literally on fire. too close to home.

“It’s heartbreaking that we were able to lose everything,” said Thomas.

Shortly after calling 911, they saw teams behind a cement barricade on a road they believed was the fastest route to their neighborhood – but caught up in a “right of way” dispute – the firefighters therefore had to make a detour.

“That’s my main concern, just my kids, you know, being away from them, having to work and not knowing if they’re going to be okay because there’s a barricade blocking the road,” Thomas said. . “And someone is trying to come and help them – that’s the scary part about it, maybe losing everything you’ve worked so hard for.”

We brought Thomas’s concerns to St. Landry Parish President Jessie Bellard, who acknowledged that it was a public safety issue, but also who owned the property where it is located. the barricade.

“From a public safety point of view, this road should be open and allow traffic to pass, especially emergency vehicles, but that’s not my call,” Bellard said. “So it’s private land that people can’t pass on because the owner doesn’t want anyone to pass it on, there’s nothing I can do about it.”

It’s a persistent problem that neighbors in Shawnee Hills say they want to solve.

“I had several friends who almost ran into this barricade,” said Jacob Goff, who has lived in the neighborhood with his family for six years.

He told KATC it’s because the barricade is low to the ground with no reflectors to warn oncoming traffic – a problem he says is particularly prevalent at night.

“It’s not fair not to know why it’s there, no one wants to give you straight answers,” Thomas said. “Knowing that my neighbors have been fighting this for years and that I don’t want justice for myself, I want justice for them too – they deserve it too.”

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Susan W. Lloyd