Operation Victor Ministry: Arson investigation, Tara and Wieambilla

Specialist arson detectives from the Crime and Intelligence Command alongside Tara police are appealing to the public for information in relation to a series of 12 suspicious fires in the Tara and Wieambilla areas between January and April this year.

Seven fires were deliberately lit between January 29 and January 30, one fire on February 4, one fire on February 12 and three small fires on April 17.

The fire on February 12 resulted in an emergency declaration under the Public Safety Preservation Act, with local police assisting with evacuating local residents and animals.

13 homes were lost in this fire, which continued to burn for several days, with the emergency declaration remaining in place until February 14.

As a result of the 12 blazes, a total of more than 4600 hectares of land and natural habitat were burned along with the destruction of 14 homes and a number of vehicles and other structures.

Several persons were treated for smoke inhalation, but fortunately no one was seriously injured.

Extensive investigations indicate the person/s involved in these arsons may reside in the Wieambilla area, with information indicating an early 90s model white Toyota Landcruiser utility was observed nearby several fire scenes.

Police appeal to anyone who may have sighted a vehicle of this description in the local area around the time of these fires, or who has any information which may assist investigations, to immediately contact police.

Detective Superintendent Craig McGrath said it is extremely lucky no one was seriously injured in the fires.

“Deliberately lighting a bushfire can have catastrophic consequences, both to individuals and in the community,” said Detective Superintendent McGrath.

“Bushfires are a natural occurrence which play an important role in the sustainability of our environment – however the intentional starting of bushfires poses a significant risk to the public including the threat to life, property, the environment and wildlife.”

“There are heavy penalties for people convicted of arson, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.”

“We urge anyone who has information, no matter how small, to come forward and help us put those responsible before the court,” said Detective Superintendent McGrath.

If you have information for police, contact Policelink by providing information using the online suspicious activity form 24hrs per day at www.police.qld.gov.au/reporting or call 131 444.

Report crime information anonymously via Crime Stoppers. Call 1800 333 000 or report online at www.crimestoppersqld.com.au.

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