Katie Urbaszewski / Houma Courier
THIBODAUX, La. - Two former employees are accused of torching Thibodaux's Western Sizzlin restaurant Monday morning, police said.
Donavan Cade Hoffpauir, 18, and Derek Hebert, 22, both of Thibodaux, were arrested this morning after allegedly confessing to burning the restaurant, authorities said.
Investigators said they believe the pair discussed burning the building down, then walked over to it and started the fire with a lighter.
Hoffpauir and Hebert are both charged with arson. If convicted, both face a maximum of 15 years in prison.
Hoffpauir is being held in the Lafourche Parish jail in lieu of a $100,000 bond. Hebert was expected to be booked into the jail later today.
Hoffpauir had quit his job at Western Sizzlin about four months ago, said manager Mark McDonald Jr. The company fired Hebert about two years ago after he allegedly punched and broke a glass cooler.
McDonald said Western Sizzlin does plan to reopen, but could take weeks or months to complete repairs.
The restaurant, at 411 N. Canal Blvd., was damaged after fire scorched the outside of the building, near the back, and sprinklers soaked the inside, said Thibodaux Fire Chief Randy Pate. Firefighters were contacted about 2:15 a.m., and no one was injured.
“The biggest damage was probably water and smoke damage,” Pate said. “However, you can clean that up. The structure was saved.”
Pate said arson was suspected immediately; authorities said it looked like the blaze was started in several places. The department contacted the state Fire Marshal's Office Sunday to investigate.
The inside sprinklers and fire-resistant walls kept the blaze from spreading inside the building, Pate said. The fire did not reach a second, smaller building belonging to Western Sizzlin.
Firefighters had the blaze under control in about half an hour.