Fire in the South of France Seemingly Started By Cigarette Butt
This past weekend, a mammoth fire demolished 800 hectares of woodland in Southern France. Authorities now believe that an errant cigarette butt started the fiery debacle.
The forest fire, which began near the city of Aix-en-Provence, drew over 800 firefighters and 210 fire engines to the scene.
While professionals attempted to snuff out the flames, many nearby roads and hiking trails were and shut down. Additionally, the wild fire extended so near to the train tracks that trains between Paris and Marseilles faced delays.
By early Sunday morning, fire professionals had contained the blaze. Fortunately, the intense flames didn't seriously injure anyone, according to Bouche-de-Rhône's fire authorities.
Rémy Avon, the vice-prosecutor for Aix-de-Provence, explained that because the fire began along the side of the road, they believe a cigarette butt most likely caused it. He added that this crime is taken quite seriously, saying, "the cigarette butt that causes, even involuntarily, a forest fire, is punishable by law with three years in prison and €45,000 in fines."
The French national police are conducting a probe into the situation, although French authorities do not believe that someone started the fire intentionally.
Avon noted that they found no evidence to suggest that a criminal purposely set a fire. Further, they have ruled out the blaze beginning naturally.
While disheartening, this is certainly not the first discarded cigarette to lead to a forest fire. In fact, researchers who studied how these types of fires begin in France found that 90% of them began with human error.
Bastille Day celebrators who shot off fireworks on Saturday, when the risk of a fire remained high, received an ear-full from police.
The fire service reported that a few small-scale fires were still popping up on Sunday afternoon, although the larger fire had been largely extinguished.
As of Monday, trails in the Aix-de-Provence area continue to be closed to the public.
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