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A firefighter has been arrested on suspicion of causing a fire that killed 137 people in February

A firefighter has been arrested on suspicion of causing a fire that killed 137 people in February

A firefighter was arrested on Friday in Chile on suspicion of causing a fire that killed 137 people in early February in the city of Viña del Mar and which shocked the country.

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Police Director Eduardo Serna said in a press conference organized at the end of this month: “Today an arrest warrant was issued against the perpetrator of the fires that occurred in February in the Valparaiso region,” where the city of Viña del Mar is located. Investigation.

The fire broke out on February 2 around the town of Viña del Mar, located in the tourist region of Valparaíso in central Chile.

According to the Public Prosecutor's Office, the fire started as a result of simultaneous small fires that broke out near Peñuelas Lake, located near the tourist cities of Viña del Mar and Valparaiso.

The fire spread quickly due to the heat and strong winds.

In total, 137 people died and 16,000 were affected, according to official figures.

“Field work, evidence collection, analysis and verification of information made it possible to identify and determine behavioral patterns and geographical data of movements” of the arrested firefighter, Mr. Serna said.

According to local media, this 22-year-old man joined the fire brigade made up of volunteers in Chile a year and a half ago.

“We are absolutely devastated by what has happened, this is a completely isolated incident […] “We have been taking care of Valparaiso for more than 170 years and we cannot allow such things,” Vicente Maggiolo, commander of the 13th Battalion, told the press.H Valparaiso City Fire Company.

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Evidence from the suspect

From the beginning, local authorities claimed it was arson.

“All the people of Viña del Mar knew that this was voluntary work […] The mayor of this city, Macarena Ripamonti, declared: “It is not about safety, and today we can have this degree of certainty.”

Firefighters were unable to put out the fire due to the lack of roads or because they found themselves stuck in the narrow entrances to the city.

“There were about four outbreaks, equidistant from each other,” said Osvaldo Osandon, a prosecutor specializing in fires.

The Public Prosecutor added that the items that started the fire were found in the home of the arrested suspect, and an investigation is underway to determine whether he was involved in other previous fires.

This arrest constitutes “an act of justice.” […] “For those who lost their lives in the fire, for their families, for those who lost all their property and jobs and who are still fighting today,” Interior Minister Carolina Toha said.