Arson Unit detectives have charged two men following an investigation into a deliberately lit bushfire in the state’s north last month.
About 4.45pm on Sunday 7 January 2024, emergency services responded to a bushfire in the Nambucca State Forest at Nambucca Heads.
NSW Fire & Rescue attended and extinguished the blaze, which had burnt approximately 70 square metres of bushland.
Local police commenced inquiries, before the matter was taken carriage of by Financial Crimes Squad’s Arson Unit under Strike Force Tronto.
Strike Force Tronto detectives work with local area commands and investigators from the NSW Rural Fire Service and Fire and Rescue NSW to detect and apprehend bush fire arsonists.
Police established two men had been seen in the vicinity of the bushfire at the time of the blaze, and just after 10am on Tuesday 6 February 2024, strike force detectives arrested a 23-year-old man in Macksville.
He was taken to Kempsey Police Station where he was charged with intentionally cause fire and be reckless as to its spread and appeared in Kempsey Local Court the same day.
Following further inquiries, about 7.45am today (Thursday 8 February 2024), strike force detectives attended an address in Nambucca Heads, where they arrested a 26-year-old man.
He was taken to Kempsey Police Station, where he was charged with intentionally cause fire and be reckless as to its spread.
The man was refused bail to appear in Kemspey Local Court today.
Detective Chief Inspector Richard Puffett warned would-be arsonists that Strike Force Tronto detectives target offenders year-round.
“Despite NSW experiencing some milder conditions at the moment, hot weather is expected until at least April, and Strike Force Tronto detectives are ready to respond to any bushfires that may be suspicious – determined to hold anyone responsible to account,” Det C/Insp Puffett said.
“As the warm weather continues, we are urging members of the public to be vigilant and on high alert for any suspicious behaviour. If you see something, say something.
“Strike Force Tronto detectives are committed to targeting those who wish to bring devastation to our environment and surrounding communities. Bushfires are damaging, but they can also be deadly.”
Penalties relating to bushfires under the NSW Crimes Act, the Rural Fires Act, and Rural Fires Regulation include:
• Damaging property with the intention of endangering life – up to 25 years’ imprisonment;
• Manslaughter – up to 25 years imprisonment;
• Starting a bushfire and being reckless as to its spread – up to 21 years’ imprisonment;
• Lighting a fire when a total fire ban is in place – up to 12 months’ imprisonment and/or a $5500 fine;
• Not putting out a fire that you have lit – up to 12 months’ imprisonment and/or a $5500 fine;
• Failing to comply with a bush fire hazard reduction notice – up to 12 months’ imprisonment and/or a $5500 fine;
Inquiries under Strike Force Tronto continue.
Anyone with information that may assist investigators is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report information via NSW Police social media pages.