By RUTH SHARPE
POLICE ARE investigating the possibility that three arson attacks in the Praia da Luz area in the last month are linked.
The latest incident happened in the early hours of Sunday, December 3, on Rua 25 de Abril off Praia da Luz’s main square, Largo da República.
It involved a white van belonging to a young male Portuguese resident who lives in a block of flats next to where he had parked his vehicle.
Around 5am, a loud explosion was heard and smashing of glass from the windows of the laundrette next to where the car was parked.
The bombeiros were immediately called to the scene, but did not arrive for an hour, by which time the fire had spread to a Volkswagen Polo parked next to the van.
The van was declared a write-off but some of the car was salvaged. The nearby laundrette did not suffer any major damage from the fire, but has had to refit its windows.
The harsh reality for the owners of the vehicles is that the insurance companies will not pay out due to the nature of the incident.
It was daylight when the fire in Praia da Luz was eventually put out and a police presence surrounded the area until late morning, causing significant interest from local residents.
After carrying out a fire investigation, a wet rag was found under the car covered in petroleum. Although many residents heard the explosion no one saw anyone running or driving from the scene. The police have suggested that the van was targeted as it was near to the main road therefore carrying the risk of causing more damage.
The week before a similar incident was reported in Almadena, when a car was randomly set on fire in the backstreets of the small village. Earlier in the month a fire also broke out in a parking area behind a local restaurant in Espiche. In both cases no one was hurt and the fires were put out quickly.
A source from Lagos GNR said the three incidents could be linked, adding that it was possible that a group of juveniles who don’t hold any particular motive towards the victims were involved.
The bombeiros arrived late to the scene in Praia da Luz due to a fire that had happened earlier that night at the Fortaleza restaurant, which had depleted their resources. The two incidents happened less than 100 metres away from each other.
That fire, which also broke out in the early hours of Sunday morning, needed the presence of 21 bombeiros with six vehicles from the Lagos station as well as a further engine being sent from Portimão.
Three people had to be evacuated from the residence above the restaurant as a precaution, but no one was seriously injured.
The fire started around 2am and was not put out for several hours with the flames engulfing the whole of the restaurant causing substantial damage according to a source from the Comando Distrital de Operaçao de Socorros (CDOS).
The cause of fire is being further investigated.
A local resident who saw the remnants of the arson fire on Sunday morning stated: “It’s worrying as it’s in such a central position. People are saying all different kinds of things as to why such a thing would happen, but the majority of it is just idle gossip.”
The arson marks the latest in a series of worrying incidents in Praia da Luz sparking fears over the safety in what is a predominantly expatriate area.