Industrial Fire Journal - Fire & Rescue - Hemming Group Ltd

The curse of the goat

Published:  01 January, 2006

December 5th, 2005 - Sweden: The giant wooden goat that has been erected in the Swedish town of Gavle to mark a special festive has been burned prematurely for the 22nd time.

Local police officer, Margaretta Olander said: “The goat has been set on fire so many times it has almost become a Christmas ritual.” Two men were seen running from the blaze, one of them was dressed as Father Christmas.
“We received a call on a late Saturday evening to report that the goat was on fire again,” Margaretta continues. “In just a couple of minutes only a sooty wooden skeleton remained.”
Over the years the police have tried to protect the animal with limited success, using fireproofing, security guards and even a web camera. The 13 metres-high (43 ft) sculpture has been built by inhabitants of the town every year since 1966 when the tradition began. The ritual of burning the goat began in the same year. Only 10 of the goats are reported to have survived the festive season.
Some of the animals did not even last a couple of hours after being built. The culprits are rarely caught. In December 2001 a 51-year-old American tourist spent 18 days in jail after being convicted of setting it alight.

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