NEW ORLEANS — A fire at the New Orleans mansion owned by music stars Beyoncé and Jay-Z is being investigated as simple arson, authorities said.
The fire in the vacant mansion, located in the city’s Garden District, appeared to have been started in the kitchen of the home on Wednesday evening, The Times-Picayune reported. According to the newspaper, firefighters found books inside of an oven, as well as gas can inside the home.
Officials with the New Orleans Fire Department said they learned about the fire when a smoke alarm was activated at about 6:20 p.m. CDT, according to WWL-TV.
The three-story, 15,000-square-foot Spanish baroque building was built in 1926 and cost $84,000 to build. It initially housed the Westminster Presbyterian Church, The Times-Picayune reported.
The church’s founding pastor, Ku Klux Klan leader J.C. Barr, left in 1930 following a disagreement over the closure of a Presbyterian hospital, the newspaper reported.
The congregation stayed at the building until the late 1960s, according to The Times-Picayune.
One man claiming to be an eyewitness to Wednesday’s fire told WGNO that he saw a man running from the home.
“I was walking around the corner with my dog, Ziggy Smalls, and I saw a lot of smoke coming out,” August Arthur told WGNO. “My neighbor around the corner, she saw a dude jump over the fence on the backside of Harmony and Eighth.”
Despite the home being unoccupied, fire officials said it did have working utilities, The Times-Picayune reported. On Thursday, investigators with the fire department; police department; and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were inside the home, the newspaper reported.
Twenty-two firefighters arrived at the mansion to put out the blaze, WWL reported. There were no injuries, the television station reported.
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