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Police monitor Easter spruce wars

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Police monitor Easter spruce wars
10:50 CEST+02:00
As the Easter weekend begins the residents of the northern Gothenburg archipelago are busy collecting wood. The biggest bonfire wins in these parts and conflict is neighbourhood conflict is common.

"Last year was calm. No reports were made related to the spruce wars," said Björn Lansten at Gothenburg police.

He is counting on a calm Easter in the islands this year too. For the past couple of years police have been busy patrolling the islands during April just to keep an eye on the "hunt for spruce".

Gangs of youths compete to collect the most spruce wood to burn in a battle for the biggest bonfire.

Several locals have in the past had their spruce trees lifted from their properties along with other flammables.

The tradition has on several occasions lurched out of control and violence has been known to settle the odd dispute. Hence the large police presence on these otherwise quiet rural outposts of western Sweden.

The hunt for firewood begins already at Christmas time and intensifies as Easter approaches.

Deserted summer houses are often seconded for secure storage for the collected wood.

Ingela Olsson, is part of an association of adults that walk the streets of the islands to keep the peace.

"It is now that bonfires are lit here and there during the evenings, as the young people guard their piles of trees. The problem is also that alcohol is often consumed. Some very young, the ages vary considerably, from 14 to 25-years-old," she said to news agency TT.

Olsson can confirm that the competition seems much calmer this year than usual.

"Before there were tyres set alight and these are poisonous. On one occasion a cloud of thick smoke lay over an entire residential area. We then had a chat with the youngsters and told them that this would not do."

Ingela Olsson reports that parents generally have a very good check on what their offspring are up to.

"They insist that they are going out to "hunt for spruce" and they put on their blue trousers and come home black as soot. You can't miss what is going on."

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