On Tuesday afternoon new fires were discovered north of Sala. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT
The woman is accused of starting a fire in Broddbo, north of Sala, on Tuesday, shortly after firefighters had extinguished a blaze which broke out on Monday in the nearly village of Rörbo.
“We have held a preliminary interview with her, and will hold another one in the presence of her lawyer,” Mikael Hedström, press spokesman for the police in central Sweden, told TT. “That will probably take place in the afternoon.”
Police are also investigating whether the woman could have also been involved in the Rörbo fire and in a third fire which broke out on Tuesday.
“When we already suspect that a fire has been deliberately started and then two more start in more or less the same time and place, of course we start to look at them too,” Hedström’s colleague Daniel Wikdahl told TT.
The arrest came as firefighters were still struggling to bring the Broddbo fire under control, with gusts of wind and higher temperatures expected to give the fire new life on Wednesday.
“The situation is tricky,” Johan Winsnes, from the Greater Stockholm rescue services, told TT, explaining that the blaze was “much too large and extensive” for him to be able to say it was “under control”.
Sweden’s state weather forecaster SMHI warned that both the temperature and the frequency of strong gusts of winds were likely to increase on Wednesday afternoon.
“It means we’ve got to be on our toes and isolate the fires so they don’t spread,” Winsnes said.
Erik Hammarström, who lives some 800m from the Broddbo fire, was on Wednesday afternoon preparing to evacuate his home.
Although he can no longer see smoke from his house, he said that fire appeared to have inched closer to his property, judging by the regional council's online map.
“You're just completely powerless,” he told Sweden's state broadcaster SVT. “We've packed two suitcases with the most essential stuff.”
Rescue services from other parts of Sweden, such as Gotland and Skaraborg, have been redeployed to central Sweden to help battle the blaze, as have military personnel.
David Widlund, one of Sweden’s leading fire investigators, said that there were several reasons why the woman may have started the fire.
“She probably isn’t a pyromaniac,” he said. “Pyromaniacs are extremely rare and there’s probably only a handful in Sweden. There are different categories of arsonist: criminals, those who do it for insurance, revenge, fun, curiosity or a dysfunctional personality.”