MAATRUKAANAN (VEY II) – After more than a week of activity, firefighters working on the Intaki colony on Vey II are reporting that with the exception of a few “hot spots” the wildfire that tore through nearly a half-million square kilometers of old growth forest is now extinguished.

While the news was welcome to many on the forest world who make their living in the timber industry, the discovery of burnt fuel canisters in the area where the fire is believed to have started is deeply troubling.

“If our investigation proves that this fire was intentionally set, we will devote all of our resources to finding the person or persons responsible,” said Biswas Suketu, head of security for the Parivaar that operates in the fire zone.

While most Parivaar set their own laws in accordance with local customs, the Maatrukaanan colonial charter sets out two possible punishments for intentionally burning woodlands: planetary exile and death. Given the magnitude of this fire (which was fueled by dry conditions and strong winds) and the fact that at least five residents of Harromet are known to have died, it is assumed by many here that execution would be the sentence should the guilty parties be found.

“They’d be lucky to get an execution,” said Srini Namasri, whose husband was among those who died as the fire overtook the village of Harromet. “If I were to find them first, they would be praying to heavens for death.”

Even those who did not lose loved ones in the fire are openly condemning the actions.

“It’s unconscionable that someone would do this intentionally,” said Jannick en Liddel, a leading Maatrukaanan arboriculturist. “Trees are the life of this world and our people have always striven to be at one with them.”

Indeed, even though logging is one of the principal industries of the colony, the population has long held to a rule that two trees be planted for each one that is harvested. In fact, many of the centuries-old trees that burned in this fire were actually planted by some of the colony’s first settlers nearly 500 years ago.

Speculation as to who might be responsible is rampant among the colonists, especially in Harromet. So far, however, these theories continue to be little more than rumor and accusation.