The owner of a piece of agricultural machinery has been taken into custody as part of an investigation into a fire which has burnt 700 hectares of land between Aveyron and Lozère.
The fire began on Monday (August 8) and resulted in 3,000 people being evacuated from the area. Its spread was stopped on Tuesday afternoon.
The owner of the farm machinery turned himself into the gendarmerie after the vehicle he was driving was spotted setting off three separate fires as it travelled along a road.
It is thought that there was a piece of metal not attached properly to the vehicle, which kept trailing along the tarmac.
“Part of the machinery fell, which sent out sparks and lit several fires over six or seven kilometres,” the mayor of Massegros Causses Gorges Jean-Paul Pourquier told France Bleu Gard Lozère.
The driver is now being questioned on the circumstances surrounding the start of the fire, on suspicion of “unintentional infractions” caused by a lack of care.
“If this negligence is at the origin of the destruction causing irreversible damage to the environment, a sentence of up to five years in prison could be on the table,” said the République de Mende public prosecution department.