Man held after starting huge fire by negligence

Kyodo

A 40-year-old man was arrested Monday on suspicion of causing a forest fire by dumping smoldering charcoal left over from a barbecue into the woods.

Daigo Kawahara allegedly threw away the charcoal on Sunday afternoon in a forest in Ako, Hyogo Prefecture, after holding a barbecue at his house in the city. He allegedly failed to confirm the charcoal was no longer burning.

Kawahara admitted to the allegation.

“I thought the charcoal fire had been extinguished,” according to the police.

The barbecue, attended by five other people, including his mother, started at noon on Sunday. After they finished, he cleaned out the grill and then went inside his house. Some time later, he spotted the fire and tried to extinguish it, but it had already started to spread. His mother then called the fire department.

The forest fire did not injure any people or damage houses, but the police decided to arrest Kawahara because it burned about 70 hectares of property.

The fire was put out about 21 hours later, after authorities had mobilized 25 fire trucks and four helicopters. Two expressways nearby were partly closed for about 7½ hours due to smoke.

Kobe Local Meteorological Observatory issued a dry-air warning to Ako residents on Sunday and later issued strong wind warnings.