Arsonists targeted in fire blitz

Victoria Police warned that offenders would face hefty financial penalties as investigations continued into a string of deliberately lit fires in Bendigo.

Arson and Explosive Squad detectives had already charged a number of people whose actions had caused fires.

Bendigo detectives were continuing to look into a series of fires around Eaglehawk and California Gully lit this week, while forensic scientists from Melbourne assisted to determine the cause of a blaze that destroyed a Maryborough motorcycle club Wednesday night.  

Officer in Charge of Arson and Explosives Squad, Senior Sergeant Jeff Maher said the number of people that held little regard for fire restrictions was alarming.

“It is everyone’s responsibility to be aware of the restrictions in their areas, ignorance is no excuse,” he said. “If you start a fire or are not complying with the restrictions, you will not only face the full force of the law, you will also be responsible for the cost of paying for the damage you have caused.”

 Sergeant Maher said these were often significant punitive costs.

The charge of recklessly causing a bushfire under the Crimes Act 1958 carries a penalty of up to 15 years imprisonment and financial liability also applies, he said.

Sergeant Maher warned that using metal ploughs and grass slashers that could hit rocks causing sparks, were just some of the actions that could make you liable for prosecution.

Other offences included criminal damage by fire, intentionally cause bushfire and lighting a fire endangering persons.

Under the Country Fire Authority Act 1958 it is an offence to light a fire during a fire danger period without a permit or complying with the designated restrictions surrounding use of equipment that poses a fire risk. This offence carries a maximum fine of $17,000 or one year imprisonment.

Anyone with information regarding arson is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit www.crimestoppers.com.au

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