Historic home razed after 'ghost hunt'

Last updated 07:58 27/11/2013
LeBeau mansion

DESTROYED: Fire crews work on cleaning up the remains of the once grand mansion (inset).

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Seven men in the US have been charged with arson after burning down an historic home during a drug-fuelled ghost hunt.

The LeBeau Plantation, a 10,000-square-foot mansion in Louisiana, was reduced to smouldering rubble at the weekend.

Investigators said the suspects admitted to being on a marijuana-fuelled ghost hunt when they allegedly decided to set the landmark in Arabi on fire.

The seven are suspected of breaking into the home, built in the 1850s, in the early hours to look for ghosts and to smoke, St Bernard Sheriff James Pohlmann said.

"They were in there looking for ghosts, drinking, smoking dope, and for some reason they made a decision - a conscious decision - before they left to set this building on fire," Pohlmann said.

Pohlmann said the men were door-to-door salesmen but could not say what the men were selling.

The home, located near the Mississippi River levee in Old Arabi and vacant since the 1980s, is the property of the Arlene and Joseph Meraux Foundation, which owns extensive land in St Bernard Parish as well as buildings in Orleans Parish.

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of our community's most beloved treasures," the foundation said. "The LeBeau Plantation was one of our most cherished assets."

There was a chain-link fence around the home, and the doors and windows were boarded up, foundation president Rita Gue said.

"It is doubtful that anything short of 24-hour patrols would have kept out these intruders intent on engaging in illegal activities," the foundation's statement said.

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- AP

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