Fire­fighter held for arson

VOL­UN­TEER: AUS­TRALIAN PO­LICE AR­REST TEENAGER ON SEVEN COUNTS

The Citizen (KZN) - - World -

It is al­leged he started the fires be­fore re­turn­ing to help fight them.

Po­lice in fire-rav­aged Aus­tralia yes­ter­day charged a vol­un­teer fire­fighter with arson, al­leg­ing he lit seven blazes be­fore re­turn­ing to help col­leagues ex­tin­guish them.

Au­thor­i­ties al­lege the 19-yearold de­lib­er­ately lit seven fires on the far south coast of New South Wales – the state worst-hit by a re­cent spate of dev­as­tat­ing bush­fires – be­tween mid-Oc­to­ber and late Novem­ber.

The man was al­legedly seen sit­ting in a ve­hi­cle on Tues­day af­ter­noon shortly be­fore a fire broke out nearby.

“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,” po­lice said in a state­ment.

He was ar­rested shortly af­ter­wards and charged with seven counts of caus­ing a fire and be­ing reck­less to its spread.

New South Wales Ru­ral Fire Ser­vice com­mis­sioner Shane Fitzsim­mons said the teenager had been im­me­di­ately re­lieved of his fire­fight­ing du­ties.

“Our mem­bers will be rightly an­gry that the al­leged ac­tions of one in­di­vid­ual can tar­nish the rep­u­ta­tion and hard work of so many,” Fitzsim­mons said.

“This type of al­leged be­hav­iour is the ul­ti­mate be­trayal of our own mem­bers, and of the broader com­mu­nity.”

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