Rome police arrest serial fire starter

Man accused of burning down landmark book stall in Rome.

Rome police have arrested a 51-year-old homeless man believed to be responsible for deliberately starting a spate of fires in the Italian capital this summer, the city's mayor announced.

The arrest is the result of weeks of investigative work by carabinieri who linked the man to a series of fires at bars, restaurants and rubbish bins in the city, reports Il Fatto Quotidiano newspaper. 

The man, originally from Sicily, is also believed to be behind the blaze that gutted the Bancarella del Professore, the well-known book stand in Piazzale Flaminio that was destroyed on 9 July.

The stall's owner Roberto Maccaroni, who reopened his business within days of the fire after receiving thousands of donated books from all over Italy, told La Repubblica that he "felt sorry" for the arsonist, stating: "I feel more pain than pleasure" over the man's arrest.

Rome mayor Roberto Gualtieri on Twitter thanked the carabinieri for the investigation that led to the arrest of the "serial pyromaniac", underlining that the capital is "united in the fight against crime, for the protection of the environment."

Police in Rome also arrested another man accused of starting a fire in the Magliana suburb, on 8 August, which affected the area's train station and municipal dog shelter, reports news agency ANSA.

Meanwhile in Italy's southern Calabria region a man was caught setting fire to undergrowth thanks to a drone operated by regional authorities as part of efforts to combat wildfires.

The news was announced on Facebook by the region's governor Roberto Occhiuto who pledged "zero tolerance" in relation to arson.

Photo Rai News