Alleged Car Insurance Scam Causes Huge Fire in Rio de Janeiro Forest

Man was arrested suspected of setting fire to vehicle

A 66-year-old man was arrested on Monday (27), suspected of causing a massive fire in the Araras biological reserve, in the Serra dos Órgãos National Park, in Petrópolis, a mountainous region of Rio. According to the Civil Police, he had set his car on fire to receive the vehicle insurance premium.

According to delegate João Valentim, the flames had already compromised an area of 605 hectares, equivalent to almost four parks the size of Ibirapuera, in São Paulo, of 158 hectares.

Serra dos Órgãos National Park, in Petrópolis. Foto: Divulgação / Corpo de Bombeiros

According to the Fire Department, the fire started at dawn, around 3:30 am, and spread through the biological reserve. Firefighters were still trying to contain the fire on Tuesday. It will take up to three days to control, officials say.

According to police officer João Valentim, the suspect went to the police to register the theft of his vehicle. His story arose suspicion in the police. Then they were told that there was a major fire and that the hypothesis was that it started because there was a vehicle on fire nearby.

After hearing witnesses and analyzing images from cameras at various gas stations, the police team verified that the suspect had bought a gallon of gasoline in Três Rios (RJ) the previous day. The material was used, police say, to set the car on fire.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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