Investigators have concluded that fuel was used to burn down Floriana’s historic arch early on Saturday morning, in a case that was ‘definitely arson’.
Sources close to the investigations said that the probe is well under way and investigators are combing closed-circuit television footage to identify the perpetrators.
The 120-year-old wooden arch was erected for the feast of St Publius this weekend. It was destroyed in a fire that raged for 90 minutes and also destroyed four parked cars.
The fire on Triq San Tumas was reported at 1.30am.
A magisterial inquiry, led by Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit, is still under way.
It was destroyed in a fire that raged for 90 minutes
Tests on the remains have so far pointed towards the use of a type of fuel, probably petrol.
According to the Floriana parish priest, Fr Charles Cini, it looked like the fire had risen through the arch’s right column, which had a door and access shaft.
He vowed to have the arch rebuilt: “We have the original plans, and we have the determination to do it. Hopefully, we will get the financial aid needed to make that possible.”
Built in 1899, the arch was used regularly until 1939, when the outbreak of World War II forced organisers to put it into long-term storage.
It gradually deteriorated until a thorough restoration project was undertaken and it was assembled again in 1999. It has been in use ever since on the feast days.