Home Madrid scholarships As fires rage across Europe, France arrests man for arson

As fires rage across Europe, France arrests man for arson


LA TESTE-DE-BUCH, France (AP) — Investigators investigating the alleged deliberate ignition of what has become a raging wildfire in southwestern France have arrested a man for questioning, while firefighters and water bomber planes battled fierce blazes there and in other parts of Europe on Tuesday as they baked in extreme heat.

Smoke from a large forest fire fanned by strong winds blackened the skyline of the Greek capital on Tuesday. Firefighting planes hovered over the flames and dropped water on the slopes of Mount Penteli, 25 kilometers (16 miles) northeast of the city. Authorities ordered hundreds of people to evacuate their homes.

Wildfires have also kept emergency teams busy in England, Germany, Portugal and Spain.

In the Gironde region of southwestern France, two massive fires feeding on dry pine forests have also forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes and summer vacation spots since they broke out on July 12.

One of the fires, tearing through the woods south of Bordeaux, is believed to have been started deliberately. A motorist told investigators that before he pulled over and tried unsuccessfully to put out the flames, he saw a vehicle speeding away from where the fire had started, it said. the parquet floor of Bordeaux.

Criminal investigators found evidence pointing to possible arson, the prosecutor’s office said.

The 39-year-old man questioned on Tuesday lives in Gironde and was arrested on Monday afternoon, the office said. He was also questioned in 2012 on suspicion of starting a forest fire, but that investigation was dropped in 2014 due to lack of evidence, the prosecutor’s office added.

Ten water bomber planes and more than 2,000 firefighters worked day and night to contain this fire and another violent fire southwest of Bordeaux that police investigators were treating as accidental. The fires have burned more than 190 square kilometers (more than 70 square miles) of forest and vegetation, Gironde authorities said.

Thick clouds of smoke and the risk of flames spreading to buildings forced the evacuation of more than 39,000 people, including 16,000 on Monday, authorities said. A third, smaller blaze broke out Monday evening in the Médoc wine region north of Bordeaux, further taxing regional firefighting resources.

Swirling winds and extreme heat made it difficult to fight the fires. Record temperatures dropped along the Atlantic coast of France on Tuesday while other parts of the country and the continent continued to toast.

In Paris, the thermometer at the French capital’s oldest weather station – opened in 1873 – exceeded 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) for just the third time. The 40.5 C (104.9 F) measured there on Tuesday by the Météo-France meteorological service was the second highest reading ever recorded by the monitoring station, topped only by a searing 42.6 C (108, 7 F) in July 2019.

The first time the station exceeded 40°C – reaching 40.4°C (104.7°F) – was in July 1947, Météo France said. After a gap of 72 years, the station has now exceeded 40°C twice in the space of just three years.

Those evacuated on Monday included 74 residents of a nursing home, authorities said. Another 80 care home residents were among 2,000 people who were evacuated on Tuesday from the last of more than half a dozen towns and cities ordered to evacuate, authorities said.

The approach of the flames also forced the emergency evacuation on Monday of 363 animals from a zoo in the maritime basin of Arcachon, south-west of Bordeaux, the Ministry for Ecological Transition announced on Tuesday. About 10 animals died from heat and stress, the ministry said.

Five campsites also caught fire in this area, famous for its oysters and its seaside resorts, said the Girondin authorities.

The double whammy of heat waves and droughts exacerbated by climate change is making forest fires more frequent, destructive and harder to fight. In Spain, the prime minister has linked wildfires that killed two people to global warming, saying on Monday that “climate change kills”.

The head of Spain’s civil protection and emergency agency, Leonardo Marcos González, noted on Tuesday that extreme heat and wildfires had hit the country three weeks earlier than usual this year and that many fires declared themselves at the same time.

“We are in the midst of the largest civil protection emergency ever recorded,” he told SER radio.

In a charred countryside near Barcelona, ​​Ricardo Serra and Julia Garrido found the rubble of their home on Tuesday. They had renovated it for the upcoming wedding of Garrido’s son.

“Everything was burned,” she said. “All our wedding clothes.”

In Portugal, cooling temperatures eased pressure on emergency crews, with just two major wildfires brought under control by around 800 firefighters on Tuesday. But warmer weather is forecast for Wednesday.

Authorities suspect a wildfire was behind the death of an octogenarian couple whose car left the road and overturned in a village in northern Portugal on Monday night. Their charred vehicle with two bodies inside was found after a fire engulfed the area. Officials suspect the couple died trying to flee the flames.

The pilot of a plane spilling water also died last week in Portugal when his plane crashed while fighting a forest fire.


Leicester reported from Pecq, France. Associated Press reporters Derek Gatopoulos in Athens, Barry Hatton in Lisbon, Emilio Morenatti in Barcelona and Raquel Redondo in Madrid contributed. Jade Le Deley also contributed from Paris.


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