Police have arrested four Iraqis suspected of being responsible for starting the forest fire near the famous Bastei Bridge in the Saxon Switzerland National Park in Germany. The area, generally considered one of the most beautiful natural areas in Germany, saw the entire slope under the famed bridge burning for several days starting on July 17.
Police are investigating three 24-year-old men and one 25-year-old man for premeditated arson. The Iraqi quartet is said to have smoked a hookah in an area between the fortress and the Kanapee viewpoint. They thus triggered the forest fire in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. According to another accusation, they had settled in a camp outside the national park’s hiking trails.
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The perpetrator had already received three deportation orders
The fire investigators were able to secure several pieces of evidence at the scene, the police stated. Shortly after the fire, officials received numerous tips from witnesses about the foreigners. However, there was a public search for a transporter with Danish license plates. That search is now over, police said.
On Tuesday, the officers searched apartments in Dresden tied to the suspects. They also secured mobile phones, which they are now evaluating.
The fire destroyed 2,500 square meters of the national park. It took more than two days for the fire brigade to extinguish the flames in an area that was difficult to access. The material damage caused is said to be €50,000.
The national park, located in the east of Germany near Czechia, is known for its sandstone cliffs, lush vegetation, and famed castles. However, severe drought and record-high temperatures have threatened both the national park along with vast natural areas in the rest of Europe.