TWO people, including a NSW Rural Fire Service volunteer, have been charged with deliberately lighting a number of blazes across New South Wales during the bushfire crisis.
NSW Police confirmed on Wednesday morning that the RFS volunteer is accused of starting seven fires in the Bega Valley area between October 17 and November 26 and then later returning to respond to the fire as part of his duties as a volunteer firefighter.
It will be alleged he was caught after police noticed the man sitting in a dual cab ute next to the Bega River about 5.20pm yesterday not long before spotting smoke and a pile of trees and grass on fire.
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About 7pm, police attended a fire shed in Tarraganda and arrested a 19-year-old man, later charging him with with seven counts of cause fire and be reckless to its spread.
He is due to appear in Bega Local Court today.
The man’s vehicle was also seized for forensic examination.
NSW RFS has issued the man a ‘Stand Down from Membership’ notice.
A 33-year-old man has also been charged with 12 counts of destroy property by fire after allegedly deliberately lighting fires in suburbs across Lake Macquarie.
Earlier this month, Lake Macquarie Police District commenced an investigation into the cause of fires that were lit in Belmont, Windale, Gateshead and Charlestown between Friday 8 November and Tuesday 19 November 2019.
Police will allege the fires were set to garbage bins, items placed out for clean-up, and motor vehicles – including four that were destroyed in James Street, Windale on Friday 15 November 2019.
About 1.45pm yesterday, officers executed a search warrant at a house on Cherry Street, Windale and took the man into custody.
During the search, police located and seized CCTV and clothing that will undergo forensic examination.
Lake Macquarie Police District Commander, Superintendent Danny Sullivan, said that police will continue to investigate all suspicious fires and bring perpetrators to justice.
“Acts of arson at any time of year are extremely dangerous, let alone during the high temperatures we have recently experienced,” Superintendent Sullivan said.
“The capability of these fires to spread to nearby bushland and cause catastrophe is a real possibility,
“We would like to thank the community for their assistance, the information you provide is invaluable in supporting our investigations”.