Quebec RCMP have arrested a 37-year-old man from Chibougamau after a “meticulous investigation” into the devastating forest fires that ravaged the province’s north earlier this summer.
The suspect, whose identity is currently being withheld pending legal proceedings, was apprehended by members of the provincial police’s major crimes unit.
The man appeared in a Roberval court via video conference on Thursday where he faces charges related to arson.
Chibougamau is a small town that was deeply affected by this summer’s fires.
Mayor Manon Cyr, speaking to Radio-Canada, confirmed that the alleged arsonist is believed to have ignited a series of small fires, all of which were promptly extinguished by firefighters.
The fires in the Chibougamau region led to deteriorating air quality, temporarily displacing all 7,500 residents from their homes.
The Quebec forest fire agency SOPFEU indicates there have been 11 intentionally ignited wildfires in 2023, covering an area of 42.6 hectares. These account for a fraction of the 674 fires and the 5.3 million hectares affected by wildfires during the same period. The overwhelming majority of these wildfires are believed to have been sparked by lightning strikes.
Last month, Yellowknife RCMP announced the arrest and charging of four female youths in connection with an arson attempt along Burwash Drive in Yellowknife.
RCMP subsequently arrived on scene and arrested all four individuals, who were found in possession of aerosol cans and lighters.
In a parallel incident, RCMP are still on the hunt for two men believed to have initiated a fire near Long Lake, situated on the northwest side of the city.
These events unfolded amidst a significant wildfire menacing the city’s western flank. Over 200 wildfires have already burned an area that’s four times the size of Prince Edward Island.
The Northwest Territories declared a territory-wide state of emergency due to the wildfires.