Police hunting down arsonists

ON THE LOOK OUT FOR ARSONISTS: Limestone Coast Police Superintendent Campbell Hill will be stepping up patrols in the region's forests on the look out for arsonists as part of Operation Nomad this summer.

POLICE will be stepping-up patrols in forests throughout summer on the lookout for possible arsonists.

Each year police assign additional resources to target arsonists as part of Operation Nomad.

Police are currently investigating a series of deliberately lit fires in pine plantations in the region including one in November at Moorak and one at Dismal Swamp and two in Tarpeena last month.

Limestone Coast Police Superintendent Campbell Hill is urging people to report any suspicious behaviour.

“We want people, when they see suspicious behaviour, such as people that don’t fit in their area or they notice people in an area around the time the fire started, to get in contact with us,” Supt Hill said.

“We need as much information as possible and we are able to work out what is relevant and what is not.

“We want to know what everybody has seen and who was in the area at the time.

“There is a fair bit we are throwing at this operation because it is serious business for us, so we will keep throwing everything we have at it.”

Patrols will also be specifically targeting those who flout the law or are negligent in their actions around vegetation, according to Supt Hill.

“It’s a multi-purpose operation, both enforcement and community engagement, to ensure people are meeting the requirements on a total fire ban day,” he said.

Supt Hill said police will also directly engage with “persons of interests”.

“We will let them know that police are monitoring their movements,” he said.

Last month Assistant Commissioner Noel Bamford said Operation Nomad focuses on known arsonists but also has a strong focus on preventing bushfires which are started accidentally and can be avoided.

“Police will continue to monitor the 88 persons of interest during this year’s fire danger season; this includes those currently incarcerated who may be released in coming months,” said Assistant Commissioner Bamford.

Last year there were 526 Operation Nomad fire incidents, 46 were determined to be deliberately lit and 61 were suspicious.

Eleven people were arrested for Nomad related fire offences and 14 people were reported and 33 fines were issued.

Fines mostly related to lighting or maintaining a fire during the fire danger season and or causing a bushfire intentionally or recklessly.

The New Year’s Eve fire at Wrattonbully started as a result of a car fire and has been determined as not suspicious.