Forest lights: 48 incendiaries arrested this summer

According to the gendarmerie, twelve of them have already been convicted. As of September 17, more than 65,000 hectares of forest had burned in France, including 50,000 since the beginning of summer.

Le Monde with AFP

According to a provisional assessment of the gendarmerie unveiled on Friday September 23, 48 people were arrested during this summer marked by a record of burned areas, especially in the southwest. Twelve of them have already been convicted.

The heaviest sentence (two years in prison) was pronounced against a young man arrested in August and found guilty of a series of fires in Gironde. Some accused, minors, have received educational measures, such as these two teenagers whose firecrackers had triggered a burning 5 hectare fire in Morbihan in early August.

At the end of July, a 44 -year -old man was indicted after admitting to having caused several fire starts which ravaged 1,200 hectares in Ardèche. A former 33 -year -old volunteer firefighter will be tried in Béziers at the end of September for two fires in Hérault. These two men and “more than a dozen” others have been placed in pre-trial detention during the investigation, according to the gendarmerie.

“We have very varied profiles, young people, minors, retirees, all social backgrounds are represented with a majority of men,” explains Lieutenant-Colonelle Marie-Laure Pezant at the France-Presse the agency. , spokesperson for the national gendarmerie. Some have “a lower psychological profile, sometimes mental disorders”, she adds.

Medical expertise that will be diligent during surveys must make it possible to distinguish the pyromans, who set fire to satisfy a drive, incendiaries, whose act responds to a specific mobile.

30 % voluntary fires 2>

Each fire departure, 90 % of which are caused by humans and 30 % are volunteer according to the National Forest Office (ONF), is the subject of a judicial investigation. Due to its establishment in rural areas, the gendarmerie was seized of the overwhelming majority of files (43) concerning forest fires. “At the height of summer, August 13, we had up to 500 gendarmes deployed out of 18 fires,” said Ms. Pezant.

The gendarmerie notably mobilized its technicians in criminal identification within the research cells of the causes and circumstances of the fire (RCCI), alongside firefighters and ONF agents. These investigators practice “the snail technique”, image the spokesperson, from the supposed starting point of fire to a 3D map of the burnt area made from drones and helicopters.

“The fire does not erase everything, we always manage to find traces, DNA or objects to go up to the author”, like a shard of bottle or a lighter, insists Mrs. Pezant. At the end of July, near Orange (Vaucluse), the analysis of a cigarette megot made it possible to go back to a person who will be judged soon.

When the technique is lacking, it is human intelligence which can be decisive. “When there is a start of fire, we have people who observe and the information goes back very quickly,” said Lieutenant-Colonelle.

Thus, the gendarmes were able to quickly go up the track of a young man suspected of being at the origin of two fires in July in the Pyrénées-Orientales, thanks to witnesses who recognized his car to leave the premises before The departure of the flames.

The largest area has been burned since 2006

In order to improve the work of judicial inquiry, in particular in the voluntary fire affairs, the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, announced in August wanting to launch “3,000 stations of green gendarmes”, without specifying If they were creations of positions or reallocations after training.

September 17, more than 65,000 hectares of forest had burned in France, including 50,000 since the start of the summer, the largest area burned at this stage of the year since the start of satellite data in 2006, according to the European Forest Information System (Effis).

The Gironde, which houses part of the largest coniferous forest in Europe, was particularly affected with 30,000 hectares who left for smoke, including more than 21,000 for the Landiras sector alone.

/Media reports.