Some 20 strange people were questioned by French police this summer for intentionally starting fires Photo: hadescom/Shutterstock
French police have questioned 26 different people suspected of starting forest fires since the start of the summer, according to Le Figaro newspaper.
Another French media, BFMTV, puts this number at 25.
Among these people, four have already been sentenced while six others have been remanded in custody.
Some of the arrests have become highly publicized and shared in the media. One concerns a 44-year-old Ardéchois who admitted being responsible for several fires in the department.
Another is a former volunteer firefighter who also took responsibility for several homes in the Hérault.
This man, in his thirties, faces a prison sentence of up to 15 years and a heavy fine of up to 150,000 euros, reports franceinfo.
Read more: A volunteer firefighter arrested for the Hérault fires
The French Interior Ministry said the 20 arrests were due to the deployment of “significant human and technological resources”.
In addition to the local gendarmerie, 320 soldiers have been deployed in recent weeks to deal with the outbreaks. Crime scene investigators also helped uncover the origins of various fires.
Read more: France wildfires rage as minister warns of more to come
The summer of forest fires in France
France has faced a series of massive forest fires this summer, caused by soaring temperatures, drought and the irresponsible or illegal behavior of individuals.
Read more: MAP: How to see where the forest fires are in France in real time
Tens of thousands of people have had to be evacuated from their homes due to the fires on several occasions this summer.
More than 61,000 hectares of forest have burned in the country since the start of the year, according to figures from the European Union’s Copernicus Earth observation programme.
This is equivalent to 0.11% of French territory. The average annual percentage between 2006 and 2021 was 0.02%.
One of the biggest fires in the country which raged in Gironde and which ravaged 7,400 hectares last week is now classified as “contained”.
The fire spread through the forest around Landiras, just south of Bordeaux, forcing around 8,000 people to flee their homes.
Authorities ruled out the possibility that the fire was set on purpose, with the local prosecutor’s office saying “there is no evidence to suggest there was any criminal involvement.”
The fire of the mythical “King Arthur’s forest” in Brittany has been stopped
Drought map update: See French departments with water restrictions