Authorities say a blaze that destroyed a historic Louisiana plantation was deliberately set by seven "ghost hunters" who became frustrated at finding no ghosts inside the house.
The LeBeau Plantation, once the largest plantation south of New Orleans and one of only two plantations in Arabi "to make it to the 21st century," burned to the ground in the early Friday morning fire.
According to St. Bernard Parish Sheriff Jimmy Pohlmann, the seven men aged 17 to 31, entered the vacant house through a hole in the surrounding fence hoping to find some ghosts.
Built in 1851, the 16-room structure was often visited by trespassing teens responsible for keeping the house's haunted lore alive.
After failing to find any ghosts, the men, who were allegedly drunk and high on pot, reportedly began building a bonfire at the instruction of ringleader Dusten Davenport, 31.
The landmark lit up and burned for hours until only four chimneys were left standing.
Davenport, of Forth Worth, Texas, was subsequently arrested along with Joshua Allen, 21, Joshua Briscoe, 20, Jerry Hamblen, 17, and Joseph Landin, 20, of Grand Prairie, Texas.
They were each charged with arson, simple burglary and criminal damage over $50,000.
Bryon Meek, 29, of Gretna was also arrested and charged with accessory to arson. Local man Kevin Barbe, 20, was charged with accessory to arson and criminal trespassing.
"Such a devastating loss to our community," said St. Bernard Fire Chief Tomas Stone. "It was a beautiful historical plantation. It’s a fire chief’s worst nightmare, to lose a historical structure due to fire."
After serving its original purpose, LeBeau spent several years as a hotel, a boarding house, and an illegal casino. It has been vacant for the last thirty years.