Trapped by the videos and photo traps that some fire service volunteers had purchased at their own expense to discover the arsonists, a municipal employee from Librizzi (Messina) was arrested on charges of having started a fire last September 17th near the provincial road San Piero Patti (Messina). The charge is forest fire. The investigating judge imposed the measure of house arrest on the suspect with the application of an electronic bracelet. Without the intervention of the first responders, the flames would have risked spreading to the wooded areas, the Mediterranean scrub in the area and the homes. The images show a black BMW from which the man allegedly threw a trigger, a small fireball. The arrested municipal employee had the duties of an aqueduct worker and maintenance worker, in whose account the Judge recognized serious indications of guilt.
“The fire immediately became apparent as being extremely serious and, like numerous others set in the same area in the immediately preceding days (31 July, 2 August and 29 August), it was clearly of malicious origin”, says the Chief Prosecutor of Patti (Messina) Angelo Vittorio Cavallo. Which recalls what was underlined by the investigating judge in his order: “… Without the timely and providential intervention of the first responders, the flames could have spread uncontrollably, in an uncontrolled manner and with high destructive power, to the surrounding wooded areas, to the bushy areas, to the vegetation of Mediterranean scrub and the homes present on the sites. The intensity of the flames, the high inclination of the slope on which the fire developed and the dense vegetation exposed at the front of the fire could have determined the rapid and potentially devastating advancement of the flames. The massive deployment of vehicles and men that was necessary to quell the advance of the flames (2 tankers, three patrol cars, 7 members of the Forestry Corps, the municipal tanker and numerous volunteers) is confirmation of the offensive capacity of the flames that were released and it is indicative of the destructive power that the fire front would have assumed in its uncontrolled spread. The “surgical” positioning of the trigger on the slopes of a hill, at the foot of a steep slope, close to a road surrounded by easily combustible vegetation could have caused the flames to spread at high speed also due to the so-called ” chimney effect” …”.
The Prosecutor, ‘Synergy between law enforcement and volunteers is a valid deterrent’
The investigations carried out by the Carabinieri, in particular some videos recorded by specially prepared video cameras, “have unequivocally demonstrated how the suspect was responsible for the insane gesture, while he was driving the car he was using”. “The investigations also made use of the active collaboration of some volunteers from the fire prevention service, who, in addition to actively participating in the firefighting operations, had previously, on their own initiative, purchased and installed some photos – videos on public streets traps. The subsequent investigations carried out by the Carabinieri made it possible to further clarify the existence of serious indications of guilt against the suspect”.
The close synergy “between subjects animated by a strong civic spirit and law enforcement” “can therefore constitute a valid deterrent aimed at stemming the serious phenomenon”, says the Prosecutor. The investigating judge applied the precautionary measure of house arrest to the suspect at his home, with the application of an electronic bracelet. The proceeding, in any case, is in the preliminary investigation phase and the principle of not guilty always applies to the suspects until the final sentence, pursuant to art. 27 of the Constitution.