Tallulah man, 41, dies in fire suspected as arson

Published 11:59 am Thursday, November 3, 2011

A 41-year-old Tallulah man was killed in a house fire in his home Wednesday, and Madison Parish and state officials are investigating the blaze as arson.

The body of Johnny L. Hopkins, 712 Holt St., was found after the fire was under control, said investigator Neal Horath of the Madison Parish Sheriff’s Office. Hopkins’ body was sent to a New Orleans pathologist for an autopsy, but the report was still pending this morning, Horath said.

Deputy Coroner Ray Thornton, who also is a Tallulah fireman and had responded to the 3:25 a.m. alarm, pronounced Hopkins dead at the scene but would not comment on the cause of death until the autopsy is complete. He said it was not clear if Hopkins was asleep when the fire broke out but said he was found in bed.

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“The fire was intentionally set and it is an active investigation,” said Butch Browning, Louisiana state fire marshal, reached by phone Wednesday afternoon.

Horath said the blaze began at the back of the house. “The pattern of the fire was enough to make the state fire marshal want to investigate more thoroughly,” he added.

Deputies and investigators were questioning neighbors and relatives and taking samples from the home, which is “probably a total loss,” said Horath.

Firefighters from the Tallulah Fire Department along with Madison Parish deputies responded. While they were fighting the fire, a neighbor told them the home was occupied, Horath said.

Thornton declined to release information about Hopkins’ next-of-kin.

Horath said Hopkins was not employed, and that no one else lived in the home and no other injuries were reported.

The Tallulah Police Department is also involved in the investigation, said Horath.