Australia — FIREBUGS will be targeted by police across the state as Victoria heats up.
With temperatures soaring into the 30s in Victoria’s north, Police today launched Operation Firesetter.
In its fourth year, Operation Firesetter will focus on high-risk locations and times, crime-prevention activities and managing and monitoring persons of interest.
Areas including the Yarra Ranges, Moorabool, Cardinia, Bendigo, Geelong, Latrobe, Ballarat, Mornington Peninsula, Melton and Shepparton have been identified as high risk.
Acting Assistant Commissioner Crime Command Tess Walsh said more than three-quarters of all bushfires in Victoria were deliberately lit or caused by recklessness.
“Victoria is one of the most fire-prone areas in the world, yet some people are still complacent when it comes to reckless behaviour during high fire danger periods,” Ms Walsh said.
“Like arson, a recklessly caused fire is a serious crime.”
The penalties for a recklessly caused fire could result in 15 years in jail and fines of up to $34,000.
The most common causes of recklessly lit fires are burning off, discarded cigarette butts, campfires, car exhausts and machinery, use of tools such as angle grinders and welding equipment out in the open and bonfires and flares.
With 4400 bushfires last season, police are calling on the community to act responsibly.
“Bushfire prevention is everyone’s responsibility – think about what you are doing, comply with requirements such as declared fire danger periods, declared fire danger areas and total fire ban day restrictions and don’t take unnecessary risks,” Ms Walsh said.
“Arsonists are often people within the local community, so I encourage the public to be extra vigilant during the bushfire season.”
Victoria Police will be actively patrolling 39 fire-prone areas over the bushfire season and will activate Operation Firesetter on days where the fire-danger rating is forecast as either severe, extreme or code red.