Arson suspect held after ten wildfires rage in Twente

Farm fire
Flames and smoke rise from the Vrijdom bed and breakfast in Den Dungen (Dominic Vleer/Twitter). (Flames and smoke rise from the Vrijdom bed and breakfast in Den Dungen (Dominic Vleer/Twitter))

The police have arrested a man from Denekamp, Twente, who is suspected to have been involved in ten recent wildfires in nature reserves in Noordoost-Twente. On Saturday April 29th, he was caught trying to flee the scene of the last fire of the past few days by a local hunting supervisor. At 20:00, he was found in his mother’s home after an extensive police effort using a helicopter set out to capture him.

Multiple wildfires took place over the weekend, burning many hectares of heath. Several areas were affected, among which the Holtweg in Beuningen and the Bergvennenweg in Lattrop-Breklenkamp, which were hit last Saturday, and the Brandlichterweg in Denekamp, which saw at least four different fires on Friday.

The police was quick to establish arson as the cause of the fires. The detained suspect, 27-year-old Maarten, was formerly known by the police force due to his criminal past. Recent reports by Tubantia attribute his actions to “sheer desperation” and “a lack of any perspective for the future”. Apparently, Dutch support agencies had been involved with his situation for a longer period of time, but decided to halt their involvement in his case due to his destitute behavior.

His “call for attention” over the weekend fit into his previous pattern of conduct, which includes robbing a gas station in Germany due to financial problems and spraying a man from his hometown, Noord Deurningen, with a fire extinguisher. When he could not afford to pay for the incurred damages, he spent two and a half years in prison. After he did not receive the help he was promised, he got caught trying to pay with falsified money. He was also suspected of starting a fire in Denekamp last year.