‘Pyromaniac fireman’ accused of starting string of French wildfires ‘for excitement’

An alleged “pyromanic fireman” has been accused by French authorities of starting a string of fires in the south of France.

The man, who was a volunteer firefighter from the Herault region, was arrested on Friday.

According to prosecutors, the man in his 30s said he started the fires in a quest for adrenaline.

The case of the “pompier pyromane”, as French media outlets have nicknamed the accused, has drawn keen interest across France, after a series of fierce wildfires ravaged the country last week, forcing the evacuation of thousands of people.

The man admitted to starting fires with a lighter on 26 May, 21 July and over the night of 26 to 27 July

Montpellier prosecutor Fabrice Belargent said in a statement: “Asked about his motive, he declared that he had done this in order to provoke an intervention by the fire brigade to save him from an oppressive family environment and because of the excitement these interventions caused him.”

“Adrenaline he called it – these are his own words,” said the prosecutor. “He also said he had a need for social recognition.”

When he was not volunteering as a firefighter, the man, who has not been identified by name, worked as a full time forester, a job which required him to prevent fires as one of his primary responsibilities.

The man’s lawyer told BFM TV that he had “expressed very strong regret and above all a strong sentiment of shame” while being questioned by authorities.

Marie Bar also confirmed he had been remanded in pre-trial custody by an investigating judge.

“He apologised to the…. firemen who he works with as he calls them his big family. This is someone who is very devoted to his work,” she said.

“He finds it hard to explain. In a way he is relieved to have been arrested. He explains it as an addiction.”

If the man is convicted, he could face up to 15 years in prison and a 150,000 euro (£125,835) fine.

Former fire brigade chief Ludovic Pinganaud told BFM: “It’s disgusting to have within the organisation this type of individual,” former fire brigade colonel Ludovic Pinganaud told BFM.

Douglas Mateo

Douglas holds a position as a content writer at Neptune Pine. His academic qualifications in journalism and home science have offered her a wide base from which to line various topics. He has a proficiency in scripting articles related to the Health industry, including new findings, disease-related, or epidemic-related news. Apart from this, Douglas writes an independent blog and assists people in living healthy life.