Fire-fighting fraud: fireman accused of arson

12th August 2005, Comments 0 comments

DRAGUIGNAN, France, Aug 11 (AFP) - A professional fireman was put under judicial investigation and jailed Thursday on suspicion of lighting forest fires in the south of France, a legal source said.

DRAGUIGNAN, France, Aug 11 (AFP) - A professional fireman was put under judicial investigation and jailed Thursday on suspicion of lighting forest fires in the south of France, a legal source said.

Sergeant Jean-Yves Gauthier allegedly admitted lighting seven fires since 2003 including three during the last two weeks in the forest of Figaniere in the southeastern Var district on the Mediterranean coast, the source said.

Gauthier, from the town of Bargemon in the Var district, was arrested on Tuesday morning and has been place under judicial investigation, the first step towards formal charges.

One of the last fires Gauthier allegedly lit, on July 31, destroyed a number of hectares of pine forest.

Southern France is facing a heightened fire risk this year due to a severe drought that is affecting much of southern Europe.

According to a preliminary official report for the southern French region, 1,510 fires destroyed 10,600 hectares (26,000 acres) through the end of July, nearly double last year's toll but less than in 2003 when more than 30,000 hectares burned.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news, fire-fighter, arson, crime

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