Quebec provincial police have arrested a man in connection with numerous forest fires that burned earlier this summer in the province’s north.
Brian Paré, 37, appeared by videoconference at a courthouse in Chibougamau, Que., about 700 kilometres north of Montreal, late Thursday afternoon to face two charges of arson.
According to the indictment, the Chibougamau resident allegedly set fire to a fishing cabin on May 31 and to forests in the area between July 8 and Sept. 5.
Sûreté du Québec Sgt. Hugues Beaulieu says police were assisted by behaviour analysis experts, criminal profilers and forensic psychologists in their investigation.
After investigating for several weeks, members of the SQ’s major crimes unit were able to nab the man.
If convicted, Paré faces a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison. He will remain in custody until his court date on Monday, Sept. 11, police said.
In early June, 7,500 residents of Chibougamau were temporarily forced from their homes because of fire and poor air quality.
The major crimes unit is trying to determine whether the alleged arsons are connected to the forced evacuations in June.
Chibougamau Mayor Manon Cyr says she was relieved when she learned of Paré’s arrest.
In an interview Friday, the mayor said the fires that Paré is accused of starting were unrelated to the two massive wildfires that forced the evacuation of the town in June.
“We’ll see what’s said in court on this,” Cyr said. “But the big fires that caused the evacuation were caused by lightning.”
However, Paré is accused of deliberately starting fires at a time when the government had temporarily banned open-air fires and forbade people from entering the forests.
Quebec saw an unprecedented forest fire season this year, with almost 15,000 square kilometres burned.
Source : CBC