On Monday night and early Tuesday morning, multiple vehicles were set on fire in the municipalities of Hoogeveen, in Drenthe, and Veen, in Noord-Brabant. Firefighters had no time to take a break in the Drenthe village where they worked to extinguish at least fires in five different locations overnight.
Authorities in Hoogeveen suspect that the fires were intentionally set. Two company vans were damaged in a fire at a tennis club. Then firefighters battled against vehicle fires and a torched covered shelter at an ice skating association in Hollandscheveld, and a smoldering truck on De Vos van Steenwijklaan. A car was also set ablaze in a parking lot on Van Echtenstraat, and then another van caught fire on Bilderdijklaan, according to RTV Drenthe.
A citizen alert went out at about 11:30 p.m. requesting that people contact police if they saw anything suspicious. The alert also stated that the fires were believed to be cases of arson.
In Veen, a car was also set on fire for the fourth time this month. There is a murky tradition in the Noord-Brabant village to ignite scrap cars around New Year’s Eve, a tradition Mayor Egbert Lichtenberg said he can live without.
“Some customs are to be appreciated. This practice, where scrap cars are set on fire, is less pleasant, however,” he told De Stentor.
Police in Veen said they were trying their best to maintain order in the village. “The fire broke out before we could get to the scene”, a spokesperson for the police told the newspaper. “It is not as if we think the situation would get out of hand. We really don’t hope that. We are present and conducting checks.”
In the days prior, residents of Veen burned down multiple vehicles, including a horse trailer, and bombarded firefighters with fireworks, prompting Lichtenberg to issue an emergency order forbidding people from entering Veen without specific cause to be there. The ban on gatherings of more than two people, a national restriction due to the coronavirus pandemic, was reiterated along with the national fireworks ban. It is also forbidden to carry “objects that can be used as weapons.”
The rules will be enforced more stringently, reported the municipality on Sunday. The following night, a 19-year-old man from Andel and a 28-year-old man from Wijk and Aalburg were stopped and briefly held for violating the order, police said.
Anyone caught on the street from December 27 to January 2 with more than two people can receive either a large fine of up to 4,350 euros, and can possibly face jail time of up to three months, according to AD. People from outside of Veen will continue to be blocked from entering the village.
“To avoid any further escalation, intervention is necessary. This situation needs to stop before something really goes wrong”, said the mayor.