Police hunt ‘arsonist’ after out of control bushfire in Sydney’s south west eases

Published: 16 April 2018 Image credit: NSW RFS

fire

The huge bushfire that blackened almost 2,500 hectares of land in Sydney’s south west over the weekend is believed to be the work of an arsonist.

The fire began on Saturday afternoon in Casula and quickly spread to the Holsworthy area, with threat levels reaching ‘emergency’ and forcing residents to evacuate.  

Many property owners stayed to protect their homes from spot fires –  luckily no homes or lives were lost.

More than 500 firefighters were on the ground battling the blaze with 15 firefighting and reconnaissance aircraft joining the operation.

Authorities believe there is no obvious natural cause for the fire and have labelled it as suspicious.

NSW Police have set up ‘Strike Force Carpi’ with specialist forensic officers establishing a crime scene in Casula to investigate once circumstances allow.

Conditions eased overnight allowing crews to complete critical back burning while they had the opportunity.

With strong winds forecast to strengthen through the day, Rural Fire Services Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers cautioned conditions may once again deteriorate.

“I think we’ve got a long way to go before we’re out of the woods,” he said.

A blaze at Menai still continues to burn in a south easterly direction toward Barden Ridge –  no homes are at risk but crews are on the ground focused on containing the fire.

Early this morning the threat level decreased to ‘watch and act,’ and then again to ‘advice,’ but firefighters have urged locals to remain vigilant and have a bush fire survival plan in place.

Authorities urge residents of Voyager Point, Pleasure Point, Sandy Point, Alfords Point, Barden Ridge, Illawong, Menai and Bangor to continually check for updated advice from the NSW Rural Fire Service, as conditions can change quickly.

Police have asked the public to report anything they may have seen that could be seen as suspicious to Crime Stoppers.

Penalties relating to bushfires under the NSW Crimes Act include up to 25 years’ imprisonment.