July 25th, 2024

Quebec man pleads guilty to setting 14 forest fires, forcing hundreds from homes

By The Canadian Press on January 15, 2024.

A Chibougamau, Que., man is scheduled to appear in court this afternoon where he is expected to plead guilty to setting a number of fires in the summer. A small puddle is seen at the edge of an area of forest destroyed by fire in Quebec on Wednesday, July 5, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

CHIBOUGAMAU, Que. – A Quebec man has admitted to setting a series of fires that burned hundreds of hectares of forest last year and forced hundreds of people from their homes.

Brian Paré, 38, pleaded guilty today to 13 counts of arson and one count of arson with disregard for human life at the courthouse in Chibougamau, Que.

Prosecutor Marie-Philippe Charron told the court that two of the fires set by Paré forced the June 1 evacuation of around 500 homes in Chapais, Que., a small community located around 425 kilometres northwest of Quebec City.

Charron read an agreed statement of facts detailing that the first fires were set on May 31, three days after the Quebec government banned open fires in or around forests due to dry weather conditions.

Posts on Paré’s Facebook page – where he regularly posted about the wildfires, including claims that the fires had been deliberately set by the government to trick people into believing in climate change – were among the evidence that led police to him.

A pre-sentencing report has been ordered that will consider both Paré’s mental state and the risk he poses to public safety.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2024.

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