Spate of deliberate fires a concern

Tim EdmundsAlbany Advertiser
Firebombers at the Yakamia fire.
Camera IconFirebombers at the Yakamia fire. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

A spate of suspicious bushfires in the height of summer has authorities worried multiple fire bugs could be wilfully lighting blazes across the Great Southern.

Department of Fire and Emergency Services figures show 14 suspicious or deliberately lit bushfires have been responded to since the start of the year across the region, escalating to the point of concern.

Five of the suspicious or delib-erately lit fires have been in the City of Albany, including the Yakamia bushfire which reached emergency status last Wednesday.

The blaze came a day after Albany detectives appealed for information about two suspicious scrub fires in Kalgan on Mead Road near Watari Rise on February 3 and on Mt Melville. Another fire caused $300,000 to the upper King River bridge on January 13.

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A small fire on Princess Royal Drive last week which sparked again yesterday is also deemed suspicious.

DFES Great Southern Superintendent Wayne Green said the amount of deliberately lit fires to start the year was alarming and they were widespread across the region.

“If we look at the summer period including the back end of last year, that number is even higher,” he said.

“It’s the fact over a third of the suspicious and confirmed deliberate fires have come from the city of Albany this year.

“If the community can stay vigilant and report any suspicious activity regarding fires, as soon as they can report that to Crime Stoppers, the more chance we have of the police being able to apprehend and possibly stop the next big bushfire in the Great Southern.

“These deliberate acts just put everyone at unnecessary risk.”

Shire of Plantagenet chief bushfire control officer Norm Handasyde said brigades in the shire had been responding to suspicious bushfires since spring.

“As far as the brigades are concerned, they are deliberately lit,” he said. “Once there is four in one area that happen, then we have a problem.

“We respond and other brigades respond to deal with it.

“It’s these unexplained fires that are a real pain in the neck.

“It is very annoying spending time and resources when someone is going around being a moron.”

Residents are urged to call triple-0 to report a bushfire and contact Crime Stoppers by phoning 1800 333 000 to report any suspicious activity.

Rewards of up to $50,000 are available for information that leads to the identification and conviction of an arsonist.

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