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Israeli Tourist Arrested for Starting Chile Forest Fire

23-year-old Israeli arrested on suspicion of negligently causing a huge forest fire in Chile.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 1/1/2012, 4:34 AM

A 23-year-old Israeli tourist has been arrested in Chile on suspicion of causing a forest fire that has burned more than 42 square miles in the countries Torres de Paine national park, authorities announced Saturday.

The man has been identified by Israeli media as Rotem Singer of Nes Ziona. Regional prosecutor Juan Melendez told The Associated Press that Singer had acknowledged a part in negligently allowing the fire to start.

AFP later reported that Singer admitted to lighting toilet paper on fire and failing to put it out properly. The report said he was released under restrictions, one of them not being allowed to leave the area he is currently staying at for a period of three months.

AP reported that more than 560 firefighters have been trying to contain the fire, which forced the evacuation of 400 tourists, most of them foreigners. About 150,000 people each year visit the 925-square-mile park, the report said.

Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter told AP an easing of winds was helping firefighters on Saturday, but conditions were expected to worsen Sunday and Monday. The government declared a state of emergency for the region on Friday.