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Second volunteer firefighter arrested over fires in south of France

The 33-year-old man has been remanded in custody after he admitted starting one of the fires in Hérault this month

A photo of a wildfire in a forest in France

The man was a volunteer firefighter until 2011 and had been in Hérault visiting family Pic: Bumble Dee / Shutterstock

A former volunteer firefighter has been arrested and is on remand ahead of a planned trial in connection with a wildfire that started in Hérault (Occitanie) last week. He risks 10 years in prison.

The 33-year-old is suspected of having started two fires at the start of August, and was placed on remand on August 4 ahead of a pending trial, the Béziers prosecutor said on August 6.

The man is set to appear before the town’s correctional court on September 28.

The commune of Pézenas is among those in Hérault to have suffered wildfire damage recently

Towards 19:00 on August 2, firefighters were called to Pézenas after a blaze was reported to have destroyed 500m2 of vegetation. The blaze was put out in two hours.

Gendarmerie were alerted to a man at the scene who was behaving suspiciously and who had been seen in the afternoon near one of the areas where the fire originated.

He was arrested on the same day, and found to be inebriated. He later admitted to having started one of the fires in the area but denied involvement in another. He blamed his behaviour on alcohol.

The man lives in Villeurbanne (Rhône), and was a volunteer firefighter in Ardèche between 2008-2011. He had come to Hérault with his partner to visit her family. 

The man, who has previously been convicted of domestic violence, was referred to the Béziers public prosecutor on August 4.

His arrest comes soon after another volunteer firefighter was arrested in connection with several other fires in Hérault. The latter said that he had been motivated by the “adrenaline rush” and a need for “social recognition”.

Read more: Volunteer firefighter arrested for Hérault fires: What we know so far 

France has seen a record number of hectares burnt this year, especially since July, the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) reported on Friday, August 5. The group has kept comparable statistics on the issue since 2006.

Read more: Brittany, Dordogne, Isère: evacuations as new wildfires hit France

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New wildfire in south of France: 800 hectares burnt, arson suspected 

France wildfires rage on: 20,000 hectares burnt, one arrest made 

Brittany wildfire started by local burning garden waste against rules

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