Arsonists ‘set’ almost half of festive season fires

Arsonists ‘set’ almost half of festive season fires

07 January 2011

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Australia — Almost half of the 40 bushfires that ripped through the state’s south and South-West regions over the 10-day holiday period were apparently set by arsonists, Environment Minister Bill Marmion claimed.

The Swan region, which covers the Perth metropolitan area and stretches from Guilderton to Waroona, fell victim to 22 fires between Christmas Day and January 3.

Mr Marmion said it was believed 19 of those blazes were deliberately lit.

“Most of these fires were contained to less than a few hundred square metres because of DEC’s rapid response and support of local brigades,” Mr Marmion said.

“It is very disturbing there is an element in the community that gets thrills out of stealing cars and then torching them in bushland.”

He said a specialist team of 60 had sometimes worked 24-hours a day to ensure the fires were contained.

“(Department of Environment and Conservation) crews have been dealing with extremely hot, dry and windy weather conditions,” Mr Marmion said.

“Fortunately, through quick action, and the support of volunteer bushfire brigades, the Fire and Emergency Services Authority and local government, they have managed to quickly control most of the bushfires and prevent any significant injury or loss of property.”

Mr Marmion urged anyone with information on the fires to contact Crime Stoppers, 1800 333 000.

“These blazes potentially can turn into major destructive fires, especially in the pines,” he said.

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