French police quiz boy as massive forest fire blazes
MARSEILLE- Agence France-Presse
A forest fire in Lacanau, southwestern France, Friday, Aug. 17, 2012. French firefighters fought a wildfire on Friday that has destroyed a large swathe of forest and scrubland near a popular seaside and surfing resort in southwestern France. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)Seven hundred firefighters battled a massive forest fire Monday in southern France as police interrogated a 15-year-old boy suspected of starting the blaze.
"The blaze is under control but still active," the top government official in the region, Hugues Parant, told AFP.
The fire began early Sunday outside the village of Orgon, near the city of Avignon, and was quickly spread by the mistral, the strong wind that frequently barrels down the Rhone valley.
By Monday it had burnt around 400 hectares (900 acres) 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 questioning him on Monday about his possible role in starting the fire, said prosecutor Christian Pasta.
Pasta would not say whether the boy was the same 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.