Police were investigating arson and attempted arson at three day-care centers in Oslo over the weekend, all in the capital’s Vålerenga neighbourhood. One of them was destroyed by the resulting fire, leaving scores of small children without a place to go this week.
No one could explain why anyone would want to vandalize and even destroy the day care centers, called barnehager in Norwegian. Even baby carriages parked outside the centers were reduced to charred remains after the spree of fires and attemped arson that started late Saturday night.
That’s when police got a call that several baby carriages were ablaze outside the Lille Tøyen barnehage on Oslo’s east side. Firefighters managed to extinguish the fires before the entire building ignited.
About an hour later, around 5am Sunday, another alarm rang, this time at the Volin barnehage adjacent to the well-known Vålerenga Church. Fire swept through the low-rise building and it was completely destroyed.
Around 11am on Sunday, police got a call that yet another barnehage was hit by attempted arson, the Fridtjovs Gate barnehage also at Vålerenga. Employees found scorched rags outside the wooden building, but there was no serious damage.
“This is very frightening,” Thor-Jostein Egeland, whose four-year-old daughter Josefine Klokk-Egeland attends the Volin day care center that was torched, told newspaper Aftenposten. “When we first heard about the fire, we parents said to each other that, ‘this kind of thing can happen.’ But when we heard about the other barnehager, we think it’s sad, frightening and surreal.”
Egeland is a member of the parents’ council at the center and noted how they had worked hard to keep the Volin center open when it was under threat of shutdown earlier this year. They had just received word that it would remain open this fall. Now they fear it will be shut down anyway.
Police launched a full investigation, also into whether the fire and arson attempts are related.