2 boys in cus­tody sus­pected of ar­son over French wild­fires

Miami Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

BORMES- LES- MI­MOSAS, France — Two ado­les­cent boys will go be­fore a judge Fri­day on sus­pi­cion of de­lib­er­ately start­ing one of the wild­fires that dev­as­tated parts of south­east­ern France and Cor­sica this week, an of­fi­cial said.

Au­thor­i­ties warned Fri­day the dan­ger is far from over even though they have tamed most of the blazes that scorched over 7,000 hectares (17,300 acres) of land, de­stroyed homes and forced the evac­u­a­tion of thou­sands in the worst fires in France in over a decade.

The two boys, both aged 16, were stopped Wed­nes­day by po­lice who be­lieved ar­son was be­hind the blaze in Carro, north of Nice, where 150 hectares (370 acres) of veg­e­ta­tion were burnt, Aixen-Provence Deputy Po­lice Pros­e­cu­tor Remy Avon told The As­so­ci­ated Press Fri­day.

Some 230 fire­fight­ers this week bat­tled the Carro fires, which dam­aged houses, in­jured a first re­spon­der and forced the evac­u­a­tion of lo­cal res­i­dents.

Avon said the ado­les­cents also face charges of theft and could face a prison sen­tence of 15 years.

Fran­cois Arizzi, the mayor of Bormes-Les-Mi­mosas, a site of one of the most dra­matic blazes, is among of­fi­cials to claim that some of the five days of wild­fires were caused by ar­son­ists.

“We have to stop clos­ing our eyes to the facts. We need to find the per­sons re­spon­si­ble and pun­ish them so that they don’t do it again,” the mayor told reporters.

The French prime min­is­ter warned that “ma­li­cious acts must be pun­ished” by the au­thor­i­ties.

Mean­while, a 41-year-old man has ad­mit­ted to start­ing a wild­fire by ac­ci­dent with a metal-cut­ting de­vice.

That fire, in Peynier, some 30 kilo­me­ters (19 miles) north­west of Mar­seille, burned 72 hectares (178 acres) of veg­e­ta­tion be­fore be­ing con­tained by a team of over 300 fire­fight­ers. The man will go be­fore a judge Fri­day af­ter­noon and could face up to five years in prison.

The fiercest fires have been tamed in Riviera towns such as Bormes-Les-Mi­mosas, with more than 12,000 evac­u­ated res­i­dents and tourists now able re­turn to their homes and hol­i­day places.

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