Canadian who claimed wildfires were federal conspiracy admits arson | Canada

A Canadian who claimed the wildfires were the result of a government conspiracy has pleaded guilty to starting more than a dozen fires during the country’s record wildfire season, when nearly 100 Fires persist in drought-stricken regions.

Brian Paré admitted to 13 counts of arson and one count of arson with disregard for human life at the central Quebec courthouse, an act that withdrew key firefighting resources from nearly of 700 fires in the province last summer.

These fires, which required the help of international fire teams, charred more than 4.5 million hectares of boreal landscape. Almost all of these fires were caused by lightning, says the Quebec fire department.

But at the courthouse in the town of Chibougamau, prosecutor Marie-Philippe Charron said Monday that two of the 14 fires set by Paré forced the evacuation of 500 residences, the Canadian Press reported. The largest fire started by Paré consumed nearly 873 hectares of forest.

Firefighters investigated a series of five fires in June that had no possible natural cause and broke out days after the province implemented a fire ban. The 38-year-old man quickly became a suspect when he was spotted at the scene of the fires and “demonstrated some interest in the fires” after an interview with police, Charron said.

In June, police began monitoring his social media posts, which frequently focused on forest fires in the province. He shared content suggesting the record fire season was the result of government intervention and not climate change. The prosecutor said police specialists had established a suspect profile based on the fires – and that Paré’s increasingly seemed to match.

Police later obtained a warrant to install a tracking device on Paré’s vehicle and discovered he had driven to locations where other fires had been set.

After his arrest in September, he admitted to starting nine fires and “claimed he was doing tests to find out if the forest was really dry or not,” Charron told the court.

Despite a series of conspiracy theories over the summer, amplified by the Premier of AlbertaAlmost all fires in Canada have been caused by lightning striking forests in a tinder-like state.

In his last report of 2023The Canadian Interagency Fire Center said 6,551 fires burned 18,496,057 hectares of land, compared to 1,467,976 hectares burned the previous year.

Even today, more than 100 wildfires are still burning in British Columbia. Extreme autumn drought and a dry winter with unusually warm temperatures did little to dampen the fires. The BC Wildfire Service says the average figure for January is two dozen fires.

Authorities are concerned about the nature of winter fires, which tend to produce little smoke and smolder underground.

“It’s not necessarily that they’re out of control, that they’re moving and growing. “It’s just the depth and breadth of some of these fires,” Forrest Tower, a spokesperson for the province’s wildfire service, told the Canadian Press. “It takes a ton of manual labor to dig deep enough or access some of these more remote fires. »

Robert Butler

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