Police and fire investigators believe a fire in Gordon today [10 January] was deliberately lit, following two reports of lit cigarettes being thrown out of moving cars despite a total fire ban this morning.
ACT Fire and Rescue put out a small grassfire near Woodcock Drive and Preddey Way around 12:30 pm, and Police say that the incident is “suspicious”.
ACT Policing has also called the tossing of lit cigarette butts “dangerous” as severe conditions mean fires can spread quickly and be uncontrollable.
There is a total fire ban in Canberra TODAY (Friday 10 Jan). Police patrol specific areas during total fire bans to deter and detect any suspicious behaviour.
If you notice anything suspicious, please call police on 131 444 or Triple Zero (000) in an emergency. #TOBAN https://t.co/s6vb30I7UU
— ACT Policing (@ACTPolicing) January 9, 2020
Police ask that anyone who may have witnessed the Gordon incident or has information about the fire, including CCTV footage or dashcam footage from around the area, to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or via the Crime Stoppers ACT website.
Fines for tossing cigarette butts in the ACT were toughened in October, but remain well short of the fines being introduced in NSW which has declared war on tossers.
Motorists caught discarding a lit cigarette from a car in NSW from 17 January 2020 face heavy fines and the loss of five demerit points, the first time a demerit point penalty has been imposed on this type of offence.
If a motorist commits the offence during a total fire ban, the penalty will double to 10 demerit points and a fine of up to $11,000.
Penalties will also apply to passengers caught tossing a lit cigarette on or near the roadway. They will be fined $660, which will double during total fire bans.
The Bureau of Meteorology has forecasted hot, dry and windy conditions today, with temperatures predicted to reach 40 degrees, while smoke haze will remain in the region.
Residents in bushfire-prone areas are urged to review their Bushfire Survival Plan or if you don’t have a plan in place, to take the time to create one, the Emergency Services Agency has said.