Swedish media mogul in suspected arson attack

Swedish publisher Peter Hjörne was left sifting the ashes of his holiday home near Gothenburg on Saturday morning after what police suspect to have been an arson attack.

The luxury home in the chic seaside village of Marstrand on Sweden’s west coast was almost completely destroyed in the attack.

Peter Hjörne, who along with his daughters, holds a 74 percent stake of media concern Stampen AB, was at his home in Gothenburg at the time.

Stampen AB owns, among other things, the Göteborgs-Posten daily, Sweden’s second largest morning newspaper.

“I was awoken by neighbours who called and set that it was alight,” Hjörne told Göteborgs-Posten. “Naturally we are both sad and shocked.”

The upper floor of the old wooden house was completely destroyed in the fire and the floor below is reported to have serious smoke and water damage.

Peter Hjörne had no clear picture of what could have caused the fire and as soon as the embers have cooled police technicians will inspect the site.

“We have no knowledge of any threats towards the family,” said police spokesperson Björ Blixter to the TT news agency.

The house is currently cordoned off and police report that they have opened an investigation into suspected arson.

“A preliminary investigation has been opened and the classification is suspected arson,” said Robert Edh at Västergötaland police.

Two other properties in the county were reported to have been in flames on Friday night, in Gullspång and Kungälv.

The causes of the two fires has not yet been established, although routine investigations have been opened over suspected arson.

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Sweden’s Gävle Christmas goat ready to return for festive season

Sweden's straw yule goat Gävlebocken, whose biggest claim to fame is its tendency to get burned down every year, is all set for its annual return on Sunday.

Sweden's Gävle Christmas goat ready to return for festive season
The ill-fated 2016 Gävlebocken. Photo: Pernilla Wahlman/TT

Every year, the Christmas goat (Gävlebocken) in the Slottstorget square in Gävle, central Sweden, attracts a media storm with locals dreaming up new ways to protect the arson-prone 13-metre-high creation.

Despite their efforts, including in some years spraying the goat in anti-flammable liquid, the goat usually goes up in flames long before Swedes have opened their Christmas presents.

Last year, the goat surprisingly made it to Boxing Day intact, to the delight of organisers, who were reported to have put a “secret” plan into effect to protect it.

In 2016 it was less fortunate, going down in flames mere hours after its inauguration.

READ ALSO: 'Memorial' to be held for Sweden's giant yule goat

“Many people are invested” in the straw goat in Gävle, Maria Wallberg of the town’s municipality told TT.

The central Swedish town is naturally proud of its luckless Christmas decoration, despite the fact it has burned town 29 times during its 50-year history.

Thousands of people are expect to attend the unveiling of the goat on Sunday, with the ceremony to be presented by Swedish comedian Clara Henry.

“It means an incredible amount that the city has such a strong symbol which is known all over the world,” Wallberg said.

Security around the giant goat is expected to be high, both during its inauguration day and throughout December. Security guards and cameras will both be deployed to keep an eye on it behind its fencing, while a taxi rank has been moved to the square to increase the presence of people in the area.

“For security reasons, we can’t go into too much detail,” Wallberg said of any further precautions.

Historical precedent is against Gävlebocken. In its first year, 1966, it burned down on New Year’s Eve and it has only made it through the entire month on 15 occasions. It has been burned, stolen and vandalised. In 1976, someone drove a stock car into it.

Orörd = undamaged; uppeldad = burned down; annan skada = otherwise damaged; oklart öde = fate unknown. Graphic: TT

“An attack early in the season would mean cancellations at hotels and restaurants. So it is incredibly important for Gävle, Gävle’s businesses and for everyone who wants to visit the goat that it is still standing at New Year,” Wallberg said.

READ ALSO: Five weirdest attacks on Gävle's arson-prone Christmas goat