Australia — The man, who was working on one of the man roadblocks set up across the state during the fires, allegedly threw cigarette butts into long grass “to see what would happen”.
The butts sparked a fire, which burned through one hectare of countryside, before it was brought under control by the Country Fire Authority. No lives or homes were threatened by the blaze, but a nearby fire had killed two people earlier in the week.
The 38-year-old man, who cannot be named, was arrested in the town of Wangaratta on Tuesday night. He has denied any involvement in other fires in the region and will appear in court in May.
The arrest comes days after police charged 39-year-old Mr Sokaluk with lighting the deadly Churchill blaze.
At least 11 people died in that fire, and Mr Sokaluk has become the target of intense community anger.
Police have warned locals against vigilante justice, after his photograph and personal details were posted on the internet alongside suggestions that he should be “burned at the stake”. He is under protective custody in solitary confinement at an unnamed location in Melbourne.
The Victorian authorities have said the current death toll from the Black Saturday fires of 201, which includes one on-duty firefighter killed on Tuesday, was unlikely to rise much further. Most of the missing persons had been accounted for, Victoria’s deputy commissioner Keiran Walshe said.
The Victorian fires are the worst natural disaster in Australia’s history.
More than 7,000 people have been made homeless by the blazes, which swept through the state after one of its hottest days on record.
A dirt track runs through the burnt out forest in the Kinglake region Photo: GETTY