France forest fires: Man arrested for suspected arson

France forest fires: Man arrested for suspected arson
Aerial view of fires in the forests near La Teste-de-Buch and Landiras, 15 July 2022. Credit. Wikipedia

A man was taken into police custody on Monday following an investigation into the Landiras fire in Gironde near Bordeaux, Le Soir reported. The fire burned down nearly 13,000 hectares of forest.

A defendant is a 39-year-old man from Gironde, who lives near Landiras. He had been questioned by police in 2012 for similar reasons, according to the Bordeaux Prosecutor's Office. Back then, he was suspected of the "destruction of forest by using an incendiary substance", although the case was dismissed in 2014 due to an "absence of convincing evidence".

According to the prosecution, the suspect "is not explaining the facts for the moment, and has not made a spontaneous confession." The man will be in custody till Tuesday.

The findings of the investigation "accredit a deliberately malicious act" at the fire's origin in Landiras, according to Frédérique Porterie, the Prosecutor of Bordeaux. It is one of two fires , including one at La Teste-de-Buch, which has forced over 34,00 people, both residents and holidaymakers, to evacuate their homes.

The investigation

On 12 July at 16:45, a mechanic travelling with his daughter observed a vehicle parked on the side of the road and drove off quickly, as the witness approached, according to the prosecution. When the mechanic arrived in the parking lot, he noticed the fire was spreading, which he tried in vain to extinguish.

Investigators made a link between the wildfire and other fires observed in the same area on the same day but at different times. Three other fires were started between 13 and 15 July.

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For now, the leads in the investigation have to be examined to eliminate or pursue the police's suspicions, explained Porterie.

An investigation into the other fire at La Teste-de-Buch near Arcachon is not of a criminal nature and is being looking into as an involuntary crime, after a van containing a tipper broke down and caught fire.

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