Arson inquiry after fire death

Arson inquiry after fire death

28 October 2008

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Australia — The family of a 52-year-old man killed while fighting a bushfire south-west of Kempsey were being informed of his death yesterday.

The man was killed instantly when struck by a falling tree.

The National Parks and Wildlife officer from Port Macquarie was fighting a fire, suspected of being deliberately lit, in the Kumbatine National Park, about 26km south-west of Kempsey.

The name of the 52-year-old man had not been released yesterday as family were still being informed of the tragedy.

He was killed instantly about 6pm on Sunday when a tree fell on him as he was assisting a back burning operation in the remote national park.

The national park covers 13,000ha and is a protected area.

Following the death, police have warned arsonists they face 14 years in jail if convicted of deliberately lighting a fire.

Police were conducting inquiries into the man’s death with a report to be prepared for the NSW Coroner’s office.

Specialist investigators are expected to examine the cause of the bushfire.

The State Crime Command’s Property Crime Squad last week announced its Arson Team would investigate all suspicious bushfires, and they pledged firebugs would feel the full force of the law.

The maximum penalty for deliberately starting a fire is 14 years in jail.

During the 2007-08 bushfire season 18 adults and 55 juveniles were charged with a total of 92 offences.

The Rural Fire Service and New South Wales Fire Brigades worked closely with NSW Police Force to investigate arson-related bushfires which increases the ability to identify and apprehend those responsible.

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