Sweden’s ill-fated yule goat burns down a week before Christmas

Sweden's ill-fated yule goat burns down a week before Christmas
Gävle police at the scene of the blaze, with the yule goat corpse in the background. Photo: Pernilla Wahlman/TT
Sweden's most famous yule goat, Gävlebocken, has once again succumbed to flames in an arson attack. A man with soot on his hands was arrested close to the scene.

Every year the massive Christmas goat in the Slottstorget square in Gävle, central Sweden, attracts a media storm with locals dreaming up new ways to protect the 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.

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In 2016, the last time it was vandalised, it burned down on its opening day.

If it had survived this Christmas season, it would have been a historic year for the goat, which has never survived five consecutive years before.

But it was not to be. At 3.38am on Friday, Gävle police got a call that the giant straw buck was on fire.

Police said that a smaller nearby goat was first set ablaze. By 3.41am, both goats had burned to the ground.

According to witnesses, a “tall and athletically built man”, wearing dark clothes and a hood, was seen leaving the scene when the fire started.

Witnesses also reported spotting a man changing his clothes close to the scene, who when confronted said he “did not have a lighter”.

Police shortly thereafter found the man, who had soot all over his hands. The man, in his 40s, was later arrested. He denies the allegations.

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