Victoria On High Alert For Arsonists This Summer

15 December 2015

Minister for Emergency Services Jane Garrett is urging Victorians to report any suspicious arson activity as the bushfire threat ramps up this summer.

Speaking at the Crime Stoppers Bushfire Arson and Reckless Fire Roadshow in Diamond Creek today, Ms Garrett warned Victoria Police would be keeping a close eye on known risky offenders and anyone behaving suspiciously.

The CFA responded to almost 600 suspicious vegetation fires during the 2014-15 season, 87 of those were in Diamond Creek and surrounding region.

Victoria Police charged 39 offenders with intentionally causing a bushfire in the 2014-15 financial year, up from 20 in 2013-14. Seven people were charged with recklessly causing a bushfire.

A suspicious fire is when a fire is deliberately lit and there is intent to cause damage.

A reckless fire is when a person has not followed reasonable precautions and a fire is caused unintentionally. For example, using an angle grinder or lighting a campfire or burn-off on a Total Fire Ban Day would be considered reckless.

The Australian Institute of Criminology estimates up to half of all bushfires are due to arson or reckless behaviour.

The bushfire arson campaign is a joint initiative of Crime Stoppers Victoria and emergency service agencies to raise awareness of the devastation that recklessly and deliberately lit fires can cause.

The roadshow will visit up to 25 potential bush hot spots over summer.

Diamond Creek is a high-risk fire area on Melbourne’s urban fringe, surrounded by bushy areas and steep terrain.

Victoria has some of Australia’s toughest penalties for bushfire-related offences, including up to 15 years jail and $36,000 for deliberately or recklessly causing a fire. Arson causing death could attract up to 25 years in jail.

Ms Garrett urged residents to be vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour during what is forecast to be a long, hot and dry fire season.

People with information on suspicious fires should call Crime Stoppers Victoria on 1800 333 000, or phone 000 in the case of an emergency.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Emergency Services Jane Garrett

Victoria is one of the highest-risk areas for bushfires in the world and deliberately lit fires can have devastating consequences for communities.”

“By providing information to Crime Stoppers or the police, you can help save lives and homes and keep our communities safe.”

“Anyone who is caught deliberately or recklessly causing a fire this summer will feel the full force of the law.”

Reviewed 10 February 2021

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