Police in the coastal Norwegian town of Ulsteinvik have confirmed that arson is behind two fires at the home of two local refugee families. The second fire late Saturday night left the families homeless, and other shocked local residents were mobilizing to help them.
The fire that was lit in a storage room attached to the familes’ woodframe house appears to be an example of the hate crimes and arson sweeping through neighbouring Sweden lately, as both Norway and Sweden struggle with the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe. Police said a local man in his 20s had been charged and jailed in the first fire set at the house around three weeks ago. Now a second arsonist has attacked the two families, one from Afghanistan and the other from Somalia.
“This means that there are unfortunately others who’ll do something like this,” Per Ivar Roald, a board member of the local Hødd football club, where several of the families’ children are active, told newspaper Aftenposten. He and other football club members immediately organized efforts to help the families, resulting in so many clothes being donated on Sunday that they had more than enough.
“We’re so grateful for all the help we’ve received, folks are fantastic,” the mother of the Somalian family told Aftenposten. There were four adults and eight children living in the house’s two residential units, the youngest just six years old. They all escaped uninjured from the fire, which broke out around 3am, and were temporarily being housed at a local hotel in Ulsteinvik, known for its offshore industry and shipyard.
Police had no suspects in the case and an investigation was underway. The fires have occurred while Norwegian authorities are severely challenged by the thousands of refugees now arriving in Norway. The families targeted, however, had been living in Norway for several years.