Man charged over deliberately lighting two fires as conditions worsen

Just as a heatwave is about to hit fire-affected parts of Australia, police have arrested a man who emerged from bushland covered in soot.

A man has been charged after allegedly deliberately lighting two fires in the NSW’s Hunter Region yesterday.

Police say that just after 11pm on Friday, officers from Hunter Valley Police District were on the scene of a bushfire near Greta Street, Aberdare, when they noticed a man emerging from bushland covered in soot.

After police spoke with the man, he was arrested and taken to Cessnock Police Station, before being taken to hospital for assessment.

“Upon release, he was taken back to Maitland Police Station and charged with two counts of intentionally cause fire and be reckless as to its spread,” NSW Police said.

Police will allege in court the man deliberately lit two fires in bush area – one at about 3.30pm near Cessnock Road, Neath, and the second near Greta Street, Aberdare, about 11pm.

The arrest comes as firefighters across Australia are “giving their all” to contain large and complex bushfires, as the country braces for conditions to worsen amid forecast high temperatures and dry winds.

The Bureau of Meteorology expects the fire danger to intensify into the new week amid increasing heat and winds.

Bushfire danger is ramping back up across New South Wales, with higher temperatures prompting total fire bans in three regions.

Fires will be banned in the open in the southern ranges, southern slopes and Monaro alpine areas on Saturday, with daytime temperatures forecast to sit well above average across much of the state.

Temperatures on Tuesday are forecast to reach maximums of 43C in Penrith, 35C in Katoomba, 40C in Picton, 36C in Griffith and 40C in Mudgee, as more than 1500 firefighters battle more than 100 blazes across the state, more than 30 of which are not contained.

Temperatures are expected to peak on Tuesday, with New Year’s Eve forecasts of more than 40C across western Sydney and in regional NSW.
Meanwhile in South Australia, Country Fire Service crews will be placed strategically around the Adelaide Hills fire ground as weather conditions deteriorate over the next three days, with authorities warning that any outbreaks will be difficult to suppress.

The CFS is particularly concerned about weather forecasts for Monday when temperatures are likely to hit 40C in Adelaide, with strong winds, ahead of a cool change.

Sky News Meteorologist Rob Sharpe said the heatwave is currently moving through southern parts of Australia.

“Initially, winds are not going to be that strong so we’re going to see a few regions with severe fire danger on Saturday and Sunday.