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Firefighter and ex-forestry official arrested over Chile wildfire that killed more than 100

Chilean authorities have arrested a volunteer firefighter and a former forestry official on suspicion of starting devastating wildfires that killed more than a hundred people earlier this year.

The two suspects were charged with arson resulting in death on Friday, according to the National Prosecutor’s Office. A court in the city of Valparaíso ordered that they be put in pre-trial detention on Saturday, the office said.

At least 137 people were killed in the fires that tore across large parts of central and northern Chile in February, leaving 16,000 people displaced and damaging more than 9,800 buildings, according to government figures.

It was one of the largest disasters recorded in the country in the last 30 years, according to estimates by the Research Center for Integrated Disaster Risk Management in Chile.

Investigators have evidence the two men agreed “in advance to carry out this type of conduct when the meteorological conditions were precisely adequate to ensure that a fire of this proportion would occur,” regional prosecutor Claudia Perivancich said on Saturday.

Perivancich told local media that one of the suspects said there was a financial motive behind the plot. She also said prosecutors have requested a six-month investigation period and that they had not ruled out the possibility of more people being involved.

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