Australian firefighter charged with starting 7 bushfires in New South Wales

A 19-year old volunteer fire-fighter is accused of starting fires in New South Wales (NSW), returning with his colleagues to extinguish it

A 19-year-old volunteer fire-fighter has been accused of lighting 7 bush-fires in fire ravaged New South Wales (NSW), only to return afterwards with his colleagues to extinguish it.

Australian bushfire
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Accused of lighting bush-fires

Police have charged a 19-year-old volunteer fire-fighter with lighting 7-bush-fires in far south coast of fire-ravaged New South Wales (NSW). On Tuesday, officers spotted a man sitting in his car next to a river in the area. Shortly afterwards, they saw smoke and a pile of grass and trees on fire, as reported by the BBC reported. He was arrested shortly after and will be produced before the court on Wednesday.

"Police will allege in court that the man lit the fire and left the area before returning to respond to the fire as part of his duties as a volunteer firefighter," said New South Wales Police on Wednesday.

NSW Rural Fire Service

The accused was a part of NSW Rural Fire Service, which calls itself, the largest volunteer-based firefighting service in the world. Regarding the incident, the group said, "Over the past few weeks, we've seen firefighters going above and beyond in difficult and dangerous conditions".

"Our members will be rightly angry that the alleged actions of one individual can tarnish the reputation and hard work of so many", Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said on Monday. "This type of alleged behaviour is the ultimate betrayal of our own members, and of the broader community", he further added.

Deliberate starting of fires

It's not uncommon for people to start fires deliberately. According to two recent studies, out of more than 50,000 bush-fires in Australia, 13 per cent are deliberate fires, while 38 per cent are suspicious. Six people have died and over 650 homes have been lost in bush-fires which have ravaged the east coast since September.