A Canadian man who touted conspiracy theories claiming forest fires were deliberately set by the government has been convicted of starting 14 fires himself.

Pyromaniac Brian Paré, 38, pleaded guilty earlier this week to 13 counts of arson in and one count of arson with disregard for human life.

“As his main motivation, [he] claimed he was doing tests to find out whether the forest was really dry or not,” said prosecutor Marie-Philippe Charron, according to The Independent.

Prosecutors said one of the fires set by Paré caused the evacuation of at least 500 homes in Chapais, Quebec, in June 2023, according to CBC. That fire alone burned 873 hectares — about four square miles — of forest, officials said.

“On May 31 at 8:30 p.m., the town of Chapais issued a mandatory evacuation order due to the raging fires, in particular the fire at Lake Cavan as well as the airport fire, two fires that are included in the charges and were cause by the accused,” Prosecutor Marie-Philippe Charron said during a hearing on Monday in Chibougamau court.

Brian Paré of Quebec pleaded guilty for starting a series of devastating forest fires that lead to hectares worth of damage and displaced hundreds of Canadians last year. Brian Pare Veilleux/Facebook
An aerial image released by the Societe De Protection Des Forets (SOPFEU) shot on June 29, 2023, shows firefighters flying over a controlled burn to fight wildfires in Canada’s Quebec Province. Societe De Protection Des Forets/AFP via Getty Images

The Chapais fire was one of the first of five blazes Paré started between May 31 and June 1, prosecutors said. The spree started just three days after the Quebec government banned open fires in or around the forest because of increasingly dry weather conditions.

Investigators observed the string of five fires had no possible natural causes.

In his social media posts, Paré falsely claimed the government had started the fires to convince people of climate change, according to The Independent.

Brian Paré posted his conspiracy theories on his Facebook page and claimed government officials were responsible for the blazes. Brian Pare Veilleux/Facebook

Paré became the lead suspect after cops probed the 38-year-old on June 2 when he was seen in the area where a fire had started. Investigators started following his social media posts where he claimed the devastating fires were deliberately set by the government to trick people into believing in climate change.

Paré was arrested on Sept. 7 after investigators obtained a warrant and installed a tracking device on his vehicle. Prosecutors said Paré was tracked to locations where some of the fires were started.

When he was questioned by the cops, Paré admitted he was the one who started the fires.

Flames reach upwards along the edge of a wildfire as seen from a Canadian Forces helicopter surveying the area near Mistissini, Quebec, Canada on June 12, 2023. via REUTERS

“At this point, the accused admitted he was the one who started the fires and, as his main motivation, claimed he was doing tests to find out whether the forest was really dry or not,” Charron said.

Paré’s defense attorney requested a pre-sentencing report, which should be released in April. He remains in custody while awaiting his sentencing.

Canada’s 2023 wildfire season shattered records and burned about 18.4 million hectares or 45.5 million acres— roughly the size of North Dakota, CNN reported.

Contributing to last year’s record-breaking fires in Canada were lightning strikes, according to Quebec’s Forrest Fire Protection Agency. About 53% of the fires were caused by lightning, the agency said.

“Widespread drought combined with a devastating lightning line are responsible for this historic season,” Quebec’s fire agency spokesperson told CNN.

Winds pushed the toxic smoke and ash from the raging Canadian fires south and suffocated New York City with unhealthy air quality for days.

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