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Spate of South Coast arson continues with Eden arrest yesterday

David Murtagh 28 November 2019
Photo: Warwick Costin

Officers from South Coast Police District charged a 33-year-old man from Victoria with intentionally cause fire and be reckless as to its spread. Photo: Warwick Costin.

With fires burning across the state and testing conditions continuing for firefighters, it’s hard for most of us to wrap our minds around the act of arson – deliberately setting the dry bush alight.

But yesterday, South Coast Police made another arson arrest, with a 33-year-old man from Victoria caught allegedly deliberately lighting fires on forestry land in the vicinity of Scrubby Creek, Narrabarba, south of Eden.

At about 12:00 pm yesterday (Wednesday 27 November 2019), emergency services were called to several spot fires in bushland in the vicinity of Scrubby Creek, Narrabarba, south of Eden, where a man was seen allegedly lighting fires. He was detained by a nearby forestry worker.

Officers from South Coast Police District attended and arrested the 33-year-old man from Victoria. He was taken to Eden Police Station and charged with intentionally cause fire and be reckless as to its spread.

The arrest follows yesterday’s news that a 19-year-old NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) Bega Valley volunteer had been charged following an investigation into a spate of deliberately lit fires in the region between Thursday, 27 October and Tuesday, 26 November.

NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said the Service has a zero-tolerance policy for arson.

“Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen firefighters going above and beyond in difficult and dangerous conditions. Our members will be rightly angry that the alleged actions of one individual can tarnish the reputation and hard work of so many. This type of alleged behaviour is the ultimate betrayal of our own members, and of the broader community.

“Arson is a dangerous and criminal act. It isn’t tolerated by society. And it’s not tolerated by the RFS, or our members. The community has the right to be disappointed but we should not let it detract from the incredible work that firefighters have done in protecting and saving so many homes during unprecedented conditions.”

The man was refused bail and is due to appear at Batemans Bay Local Court today.

A number of fires sprung up this week across the Bega Valley, Eurobodalla and Snowy Monaro, all are currently listed at the ‘Advice’ threat level on the RFS website. Dry lightning strikes are thought to be responsible for starting most of the fires.

The RFS says most of the smoke that has blanketed the region this week has come from fires burning in Victoria and Northern NSW.

For updates and advice on preparing for bushfire, check the NSW RFS website.


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