A 28-year-old volunteer fireman in Pavia, northern Italy, has been arrested by police for starting fires so that he could put them out.
It is the latest in a string of pyromaniac firemen in Italy. Last week a crew of 15 volunteer firemen in Ragusa, Sicily, were accused of regularly starting fires to collect the €10 p/hour reward paid to volunteer firemen by the state.
Wildfires continue to burn across Italy in a summer of record temperatures.
The police in Pavia began to investigate the 28-year-old after they noticed that he was the first volunteer to respond to most fires in a small area. They then found CCTV footage of him starting fires, according to Repubblica.
The man in question told carabinieri who arrested him that there were not enough fires in Lomellina – where he was stationed – and that he wanted to imitate the firemen he had seen in an unnamed US TV show, according to Il Messaggero. He wanted to experience “the thrill” of putting out the fires, reports Repubblica.
The 28-year-old arsonist was filmed on a security camera in the Lombardy region setting hedges and rubbish bins alight before returning to base, sounding the alarm and rushing along with the colleagues to put the fire out, according to AFP.
According to a press release by the Italian police, eight men were also apprehended yesterday and charged with starting fires in Avellino, in the Campania region.
“You cannot link the concept of earning a salary and firefighting in a period of economic crisis such as this,” said Antonio Brizzi, secretary general of the Conapo fire fighters' union.
“Cuts mean we have 3,500 fewer firemen than necessary, which has led in some cases to a hurried use of volunteers,” adding that the latter needed to be chosen on more stringent psychological tests.
While much of the country sweltered, the heat in the Veneto region resulted in violent storms overnight Thursday to Friday which lashed the area, landing three people in hospital and lightly injuring 45 others.