Fury over illegally lit fires

First appeared in The Moorabool News, December 18 2017

Members of the Bacchus Marsh Fire Brigade’s Group are fuming over the number of illegally lit fires during the fire danger period.

Deputy Group Officer, Nathan Ractliffe said the group had attended more than a dozen fires since the FDP commenced on November 27.

“We are really disappointed,” he said.

“This isn’t the first year that we’ve had a zero tolerance approach to bushfire arson, and
it’s not the first fire season, yet people are still recklessly lighting fires and not even
considering the ramifications of it”.

Mr Ractliffe said the fires had occurred in Bacchus Marsh and the Rowsley Valley.

“People are obviously still cleaning up their backyards before Christmas and instead of going to the tip and disposing of their rubbish properly, they are setting it on fire, which is not only dangerous, but illegal.

“You cannot have an open fire in an urban environment without a permit, it’s that

Residents are required to apply for a permit through Moorabool Shire Council.

“If you’re stuck and need to do a burn off, or you’re having a combustion fire barbecue, you need to seek permission first,” Mr Ractliffe said.

“Around half of those responsible for the illegally lit fires in the three weeks since the FDP commenced have been spoken to by police and will be charged in the near future”.

Anyone found guilty of recklessly or intentionally causing a bushfire can face penalties of
up to 15-years imprisonment.

Lighting a fire on a total fire ban day can also attract a fine of around $37,000 or up to two
years in jail.

State Emergencies and Security Command Assistant Commissioner, Debra Abbott said Victoria Police have ramped up efforts to prevent recklessly lit fires.

She said police are targeting high risk locations and persons of interest in an effort to catch arsonists before their behaviour has devastating consequences.

“Bushfire arson can result in a huge cost to the community through loss of life, destruction of property and the decimation of the environment,” Ms Abbott said.

“If you see something you think looks suspicious, please say something”.

To find out what you can and can’t day during the fire danger period, and on days of total
fire ban, visit http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/warnings-restrictions/can.

To report suspicious behaviour contact Triple Zero.

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