Australian bushfire crisis: 183 people arrested, 24 charged with starting fires

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More than 180 Australians have been arrested accused of DELIBERATELY lighting bushfires since the start of the horror season that’s left 25 dead

  • 24 people have been charged with bushfire-related offences this fire season
  • A further 53 people arrested for failing to comply with state-imposed fire bans  
  • In Queensland, officers have investigated 69 juveniles in relation to fire offences
  • At least 25 people have died, and 1,500 homes have been destroyed so far 

More than 180 people have been arrested accused of deliberately lighting bushfires since the start of the horror season which has left 25 dead and destroyed more than 2,000 homes.  

On the New South Wales south coast, where at least nine people have died since the fire season picked up in October, 29 blazes have been deliberately lit.

So far 24 people across the state have been charged with starting blazes in the bush, while a further 159 have been charged or cautioned over less serious fire offences. 

The fast moving Myall Creek bushfire spread rapidly throughout northern New South Wales

The fast moving Myall Creek bushfire spread rapidly throughout northern New South Wales

The fast moving Myall Creek bushfire spread rapidly throughout northern New South Wales

This map shows the statistics across each state of Australia where people have been charged for lighting fires

This map shows the statistics across each state of Australia where people have been charged for lighting fires

This map shows the statistics across each state of Australia where people have been charged for lighting fires

As the fire front approached, the sky was filled with orange flames and thick, grey plumes of smoke

As the fire front approached, the sky was filled with orange flames and thick, grey plumes of smoke

As the fire front approached, the sky was filled with orange flames and thick, grey plumes of smoke 

In Queensland, police have arrested 101 people accused of starting bushfires, 69 juveniles and 32 adults.   

Five people were arrested for allegedly setting bushland alight in Tasmania – and a further 10 in South Australia. 

Meanwhile in Victoria, where locals have experienced some of the most catastrophic conditions the nation has ever seen, 43 people were charged with firebug offences. 

There have been 183 people arrested or charged with lighting bushfires nationally – and police fear that figure will climb. 

‘Police are well aware that we need to take action against people, whatever that might be, in this time it is particularly a heightened risk of fire activity and we’ve seen the devastation it causes,’ NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys said on Tuesday.

‘We make no apologies for being so vigilant about that.’  

A kookaburra perches on a burnt tree in the aftermath of a bushfire in Wallabi Point, in northern NSW

A kookaburra perches on a burnt tree in the aftermath of a bushfire in Wallabi Point, in northern NSW

A kookaburra perches on a burnt tree in the aftermath of a bushfire in Wallabi Point, in northern NSW

Allison Marion's photo of her son Finn fleeing the advancing bushfires in the seaside town of Mallacoota in Victoria's far east has become an symbol of this year's bushfire crisis

Allison Marion's photo of her son Finn fleeing the advancing bushfires in the seaside town of Mallacoota in Victoria's far east has become an symbol of this year's bushfire crisis

Allison Marion’s photo of her son Finn fleeing the advancing bushfires in the seaside town of Mallacoota in Victoria’s far east has become an symbol of this year’s bushfire crisis

Mitch Parish, a former arson squad detective, said the international frenzy surrounding the bushfire crisis would only increase a ‘vanity arsonists’ desire to light an inferno. 

‘It’s got to the stage where they’re seeing all the publicity on the fires ‚Ķ and they get bit of a buzz because of all the attention,’ Mr Parish said.

‘People get very emotional and passionate (about fires) and feel a lot of power because it’s a very ¬≠destructive force.’ 

NSW Rural Fire Service volunteer Blake Banner was charged with lighting seven fires in the south coast region.

The 19-year-old was allegedly spotted leaving a location as a fire spread rapidly and arrived at a fire ground to help put out a blaze before any of his fellow volunteers on another occasion, police say.

He was granted bail and intends to fight the accusations.

Residents defend a property from a bushfire at Hillsville near Taree, 350km north of Sydney

Residents defend a property from a bushfire at Hillsville near Taree, 350km north of Sydney

Residents defend a property from a bushfire at Hillsville near Taree, 350km north of Sydney

2019/2020 FIRE SEASON DEATH TOLL

By Brittany Chain for Daily Mail Australia

A total of 10 people have been killed in the New South Wales bushfires since last Monday, taking the total death toll across the nation to 25. 

A 71-year-old man became the latest casualty of the bushfire crisis after he was found on a burnt-out property in Nerrigundah on the south coast of NSW.

David Harrison, a 47-year-old man from Canberra, suffered a heart attack defending his friend’s home on Saturday, January 4.

The recent deaths also include dairy farmer Patrick Salway, 29, and his father Robert, 63, who died trying to save their property in Cobargo, near Bega. 

An off-duty RFS firefighter, believed to be 72-year-old Colin Burns, was found near a car in Belowra after the NYE fires swept through. 

Another person died on December 29 from serious burns sustained in a fire in November. 

Well-known outback pilot Dick Lang and his son, Adelaide surgeon Clayton Lang, died in the Kangaroo Island bushfire after their car was trapped by flames. 

A 70-year-old man was found dead outside a home at Yatte Yattah, west of Lake Conjola, on Tuesday night, while another man’s body was found in a burnt vehicle on a road off the Princes Highway at Yatte Yattah Wednesday morning. 

The body of a man was found in a vehicle on Wandra Road at Sussex Inlet about 11.30am Wednesday but is yet to be formally identified.

A seventh body was found outside a home Coolagolite, about 10km east of Cobargo, on Wednesday. 

Beloved great-grandfather Mick Roberts, 67, from Buchan, in East Gippsland, was found dead at his home on Wednesday morning. 

On Sunday, young father and volunteer firefighter Samuel McPaul, 28, was fighting a blaze in Jingellic, in Green Valley, about 70km east of Albury on the border of NSW and Victoria, when the truck he was in rolled, killing him instantly. 

Two other firefighters died on December 19 after a tree fell on their truck while they were travelling through Buxton, south of Sydney.  

Andrew O’Dwyer, 36, and Geoffrey Keaton, 32, were later named as the volunteers involved in the tragic accident the following day.

Both men were young fathers and had volunteered with the Horsley Park Rural Fire Service brigade for more than a decade. 

Two people also died in South Australian fires before Christmas, including 69-year-old engineer Ron Selth.

His body was found in his Charleston home, which was destroyed by the Cudlee Creek blaze on December 21.

Another person died in a fiery car crash on the same day. 

In early November, just weeks into the horror fire season which has been baring down on the nation for months, three people perished in northern NSW.

George Nole’s body was found in a burnt out car near his home in Glen Innes while 63-year-old Julie Fletcher’s body was pulled from a scorched building in Johns River, north of Taree.

Vivian Chaplain, a 69-year-old woman from Wytaliba, succumbed to her injuries in hospital after attempting in vain to save her home and animals from the blaze.  

The fourth victim was named just days later as 58-year-old Barry Parsons.

His body was discovered in bushland on the southern end of the Kyuna Track at Willawarrin, near Kempsey, on November 13. 

77-year-old Bob Lindsey and 68-year-old Gwen Hyde were found in their burned out property on October 9th.

Pictured: Volunteer firefigthter watching on as the Gospers Mountain fire in NSW rapidly approached

Pictured: Volunteer firefigthter watching on as the Gospers Mountain fire in NSW rapidly approached

Pictured: Volunteer firefigthter watching on as the Gospers Mountain fire in NSW rapidly approached

NSW Fire and Rescue officer protects the Colo Heights Public School from being impacted by the Gospers Mountain fire near Colo Heights south west of Sydney

NSW Fire and Rescue officer protects the Colo Heights Public School from being impacted by the Gospers Mountain fire near Colo Heights south west of Sydney

NSW Fire and Rescue officer protects the Colo Heights Public School from being impacted by the Gospers Mountain fire near Colo Heights south west of Sydney

Banner was stood down from his duties with the force in the interim and Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said members will be devastated if the allegations are proven true.

‘Our members will be rightly angry that the alleged actions of one individual can tarnish the reputation and hard work of so many,’ he said. 

A 79-year-old South Australian man was also charged with starting multiple grass and shrub fires as the nation welcomed in the new year.

Police will allege the man lit fires on December 30 and January 2, and then two on Saturday, all in the Kingston area, on the state’s south-east coastline.

The devastating bushfires have cost 25 people their lives so far this season, destroyed more than 2,000 homes and thousands more outbuildings and dwellings.

The blazes, which have now been burning along much of the east coast of Australia for three months, have scorched more than six million hectares of land.

AUSTRALIA’S BUSHFIRE CRISIS – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Evacuations are underway and emergency alerts are in place in NSW, Victoria and South Australia as authorities predict the devastating bushfires will continue burning until at least March. 

At least 25 people have been killed in blazes across the country since the bushfire season began in October

NEW SOUTH WALES/ACT

  • At least 130 bushfires were burning in NSW on Tuesday
  • 20 people dead 
  • 3.6 million hectares burned, greater than the size of Belgium 
  • At least 1,588 homes confirmed destroyed 

VICTORIA  

  • Two people dead
  • About 31 active bushfires burning
  • More than 784,000 hectares burned
  • 330 structures confirmed destroyed but significantly more expected 

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

  • Three people, including two from Kangaroo Island, are dead
  • 17 bushfires burning, four of significance
  • More than 100,000 hectares burned
  • 88 homes confirmed destroyed  
  • About 600 properties on Kangaroo Island remain without power with SA Power Networks warning it may be some time before crews can access the fire ground to assess damage 

QUEENSLAND

  • 33 bushfires burning
  • 250,000 hectares burned
  • 45 homes confirmed destroyed

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

  • More than 35 bushfires burning, two of significance
  • 1.5 million hectares burned
  • One home confirmed destroyed

TASMANIA

  • 23 bushfires burning, two of significance
  • 30,000 hectares burned
  • Two homes confirmed destroyed

NORTHERN TERRITORY

  • Five bushfires burning
  • Five homes confirmed destroyed

 

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