Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Vannes Burns

Terrorism reigns in the city of Vannes in western France. The local press, Ouest-France, reports on a wave of arsons that has been sweeping the city for months. The following is a condensation of their article:

He put his nose out the door, smelled smoke, put on his robe and left his apartment without panicking. Along with his neighbors, this retiree from Vannes was taken to city hall at 5 o'clock in the morning. Meanwhile, in the basement of the apartment building, firemen were trying to put out a blaze that completely or partially destroyed 4 cars.

A tenant had called the fire department. "I heard very loud explosions." Another added, "(It was) the noise of glass bursting from the heat."

These explosions were identical to those heard the night before at another residence when 60 people had to be evacuated to a gymnasium. Six cars were destroyed by fire. In this incident even more harm was done: water lines and electricity were seriously damaged.

The police have very few clues. "It's always the same modus operandi - fire starts in the front part of the car. And always in luxury buildings." Another similarity is that in the underground parking lots there is no sign of breaking in where the doors operate by remote control. "With the number of passes that are floating around..." The investigators are appealing to witnesses to come forth.

This series of fires could create a psychosis among the inhabitants of Vannes. In the last three months, at least 8 fires of criminal origin involved either residences or cars parked on the street. Last Friday, the firemen came three times: first, fires in trash cans, then two cars burned, and finally the door of an apartment late in the afternoon. This last fire could be a settling of accounts.

The month of May had also been active with fires in the parking lot of the veterinary services, in the basement of an apartment building and in trash cans.

Saturday morning, Mayor François Goulard assured everyone that special measures would be taken by the police and that supplementary patrols would be recruited.

If you click here you'll see a photo of the port of Vannes in the Morbihan Gulf, with the sea dotted by countless sailing vessels. The official website of the port lists ten reasons for moving to Vannes, but arson is not one of them. We do learn, though, that in 2004, Vannes was listed as the 9th safest city in France.

Like so many places in France and Europe, it looks like an enchanting place to live, in the right circumstances. Just the love of their beautiful land should prompt Frenchmen to fight for it.

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