Arson a serious threat as weather warms up

Released 13/01/2014


Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Simon Corbell, is urging residents to be vigilant in reporting suspicious activity following several grass fires around the region.

Very high temperatures are expected this week and the Emergency Services Agency may declare Total Fire Ban days.

Deliberately lit grass fires and bush fires traditionally increase in the ACT from December to March, with most occurring along roadside green areas, local parks and reserves.

"Canberrans need to be alert on two fronts, they need to be careful on days of high fire danger but at the same time aware of the actions of others around them," Mr Corbell said.

"Do not discount a feeling that something may be suspicious. A deadly fire can ignite at anytime. It doesn't have to be a day of extreme heat or strong winds for a fire to cause significant damage to lives and property."

ACT Fire & Rescue and the ACT Rural Fire Service have attended 59 grass fires and bushfires since 1 January 2013. Of those, 34 were believed to be suspicious or deliberately lit.

ACT Policing Acting Chief Police Officer David Pryce said persons who light fires can be charged with various offences and face serious criminal sanctions.

"While no one has been charged for bushfire arson offences this summer season, ACT Policing is currently investigating a number of suspicious fires," Mr Pryce said.

"Members of the community may be the first to notice suspicious behaviour or activity in their neighbourhood, so we need their help to monitor open areas such as parks or grasslands, and to call ACT Policing Operations on 131 444 to report it or triple zero in an emergency."

The ACT's emergency services use the Arson Trend Analysis System to help track arson activity. ACT Policing is patrolling specific areas to deter and detect any suspicious or anti-social behaviour.

With a very dry beginning to summer the potential for fires in the ACT is already high. Without significant rainfall over the coming weeks the danger will continue to increase.

ESA Commissioner Dominic Lane is urging the community to be prepared this week.

"The ACT is expecting very high temperatures by mid-week and Total Fire Ban days may be declared," Commissioner Lane said.

"The ESA, in coordination with the Bureau of Meteorology, will closely monitor conditions and will advise the public accordingly," he said.

"I encourage all Canberra households to review their Bushfire Survival Plan if they have not done so already. A Bushfire Survival Plan can be downloaded on the ESA website at"

- Statement ends -

Section: Simon Corbell, MLA | Media Releases

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