The main Christmas tree in Kaunas, Lithuania's second city, was set on fire in the early hours of Saturday. The arsonist was apprehended 15 minutes later, a police officer was injured during the arrest.
“This night, the main decoration of Kaunas, the Christmas tree in Rotušės Square, was burning with open fire,” the city's authorities announced on the official Facebook page. “Luckily, no people were hurt. Firefighters were maximally efficient. We express our gratitude to them.”
The city's fire services received the alert about the tree on fire at 01:43 on Saturday. The open fire was extinguished within a couple of minutes.
According to the police, CCTV cameras captured a car approaching the tree at 01:40. The driver got out of the car, poured flammable liquid onto the tree, set it on fire and drove away.
The police stopped the car 17 minutes later. A 21-year-old officer was injured while detaining the suspect, but did not need hospitalisation, according to the police.
The suspect is a 39-year-old man who was sober during the arrest, police spokesman Ramūnas Matonis told LRT RADIO. He has no prior convictions.
“The circumstances and causes of the fire are being investigated by experts,” Kaunas Municipality posted on Facebook. “If it turns out to be malicious action, ‘Grinch’ would not be a harsh enough description for its author.”
He is facing a fine or up to five years of jailtime.