Cops call for help in finding firebugs

The fire at South Turramurra yesterday (Photo: NSW Rural Fire Service)

Firebugs may have started a number of the blazes that have consumed parts of NSW and Queensland in recent days, with police calling for help from the public to find offenders.

A number of suspicious bushfires during the state-wide total fire ban are currently under investigation.

NSW faced devastation yesterday, with more than 300 fires burning across the state in the Greater Sydney, Greater Hunter and Illawarra and Shoalhaven areas.

There are currently approximately 80 fires still burning, with 50 0f them uncontained.

MORE READING: A NIGHT ON EDGE IN A BUSHFIRE EVAC ZONE

Deputy Commissioner of the NSW Police Force Gary Worboys, has praised the affected communities for supporting each other so positively during this time of crisis.

“Now we need help from the community again – this time to assist the detectives who are beginning investigations into the cause of fires suspected of being deliberately lit across several police area commands and police districts,” he stated publicly.

Police are encouraging anyone with information or who might have witnessed suspicious behaviour yesterday to come forward.

Inquiries are being conducted by various investigators from the affected areas, along with the help of the Strike Force Toronto and the Rural Fire Service (RFS).

Established in 2001 by the State Crime Command’s Arson Unit, the Strike Force Toronto exists to investigate suspicious or deliberately-lit bushfires which have led to death, serious injury or significant property loss.

They are investigating fires that began in all the affected areas, including one in South Turramurra, only 20kms from the Sydney CBD.

Embed from Getty Images

Fires in the Wollongong and Lake Illawarra police districts are also being investigated.

A nine-year-old boy has been issued a warning under the Young Offenders Act after admitting to starting a fire with a blow-torch at Worrigee in the Wollongong area.

DC Worboys confirmed that NSW Police have also charged three men in the wake of the fires.

Two of these men were found in possession of emergency services paraphernalia, which is believed to have been illegally obtained.

MORE READING: TWO MEN AND A UTE MAKE A DIFFERENCE FOR BUSHFIRE VICTIMS

The third man was charged with impersonating an emergency services officer and having goods in custody suspected of being stolen at Loftus in the Sutherland area, after being caught riding a motorscooter in the Royal National Park.

He was arrested wearing a Fire and Rescue NSW uniform at 9.30pm last night.

Others throughout the state were issued with court attendance and infringement notices for failing to comply with the total fire bans placed on the entire state.

Embed from Getty Images

The NSW Police Force has also issued a strong warning against looting, instances of which have been rumoured on social media.

“These communities have suffered enough without individuals stealing what items they have left,” said DC Worboys.

“Any reports of looting or other criminal acts will be thoroughly investigated. If you choose to partake in this type of behaviour, you will face the full force of the law,” he warned.

Anyone with information that could help police in their investigations is encouraged to contact the relevant police station, or call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

-@erinchristie2