Police on Monday arrested a 40-year-old man on suspicion of starting a mountain forest fire after he threw a smoldering charcoal briquette into the woods following a barbecue in Ako, Hyogo Prefecture, on Sunday afternoon.
The blaze started in the mountains at around 3 p.m. It spread to near the Sanyo and Harima expressways which were closed to traffic for seven hours on Sunday night, Fuji TV reported. The fire forced more than 80 families to evacuate from their homes.
The fire was not extinguished until around 6 a.m. Monday morning. Six self-defense force helicopters carrying water joined 25 fire engines to combat the blaze.
Firefighters said the blaze destroyed over 70 hectares of forest.
Fuji TV quoted police as saying that the suspect, identified as Daigo Kawahara, held a barbecue at his home on Sunday afternoon. He was quoted by police as saying he disposed of the charcoal in the forest but did not realize it was still smoldering.© Japan Today