French police question boy over Avignon forest fire

A fire-fighting plane releases water over a forest fire
A fire-fighting plane releases water over a forest fire Reuters/Santiago Ferrero

Several hundred firefighters battled a massive forest fire on Monday in southern France as police questioned a 15-year-old boy suspected of starting the blaze.


"The blaze is under control but still active," said Hugues Parant, who is the senior government official in the region.

The fire began early on Sunday outside the village of Orgon, near the city of Avignon, and it was quickly spread by the mistral, the strong wind which is frequently noticeable in the region.

By Monday it had burnt around 400 hectares of vegetation in the popular tourist region and destroyed two houses but had not caused any casualties, officials said.

Police detained a teenage boy on Sunday and were still interrogating him on Monday about his possible role in starting the fire, said prosecutor Christian Pasta.

Pasta would not reveal whether the boy was the same one who had been placed under
investigation several times over the summer in connection with some 15 blazes that police suspect were started deliberately.

A forest fire devastated hundreds of hectares of pine forest close to one of France's best surfing beaches on the Atlantic coast in mid-August.



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