Volunteer firefighter charged over allegedly deliberately lighting fires

A volunteer firefighter has been charged over allegedly deliberately lighting several bushfires in the Hunter region.

Arson Unit detectives from the State Crime Command’s Crimes Squad established Strike Force Glenarvon earlier this month to investigate a number of suspicious bushfires.

Following investigations, detectives arrested an 18-year-old man at a home in Aberglasslyn yesterday morning.

He was charged with 15 offences including 13 counts of intentionally cause fire and be reckless as to its spread and two counts of destroy property. He was refused bail to appear at Maitland Local Court today.

Police will allege in court the man deliberately lit fires in grassland at Weston, Pelaw Main, Bellbird, Greta, Aberglasslyn, Melville, and Cessnock, on several occasions in July and August this year.

It will be further alleged that the man later attended some of the fires as an NSW RFS volunteer and assisted in extinguishing the blazes.

Starting a bushfire and being reckless as to its spread has an up to 21 years imprisonment penalty under the NSW Crimes Act, the Rural Fires Act, and Rural Fires Regulation.

Financial Crimes Squad Commander, Acting Superintendent Richard Puffett, said as the bushfire season in NSW approaches, his team is committed to investigating any fires suspected of being suspicious or known to be deliberately lit.

“Our state has had a number of years of extreme weather from floods to fires – and the coming months will only get warmer,” Det Acting Supt Puffett said.

“With a large amount of dry vegetation across our state, we are urging members of the public to be vigilant during this year’s bushfire season. If you see or notice anything suspicious, please contact police.

“Strike Force Tronto officers are committed to targeting arsonists who wish to bring devastation to our environment and our communities. Bushfires can not only be damaging, they can be deadly.”

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