Man charged over allegedly lighting bushfire near Lake Macquarie

A man will face court today charged over allegedly deliberately lighting a bushfire in the Lake Macquarie region.

Just after 5.30pm on Thursday 3 January 2019, emergency services were called to a suspicious fire in bushland near Fassifern Railway Station.

The fire was extinguished, and no one was injured.

The Financial Crimes Squad’s Arson Unit commenced an investigation under Strike Force Wollybutt.

Following extensive inquiries, strike force detectives, with assistance of officers from Police Transport Command, arrested a 25-year-old man near Victoria Street Railway Station in East Maitland about 9.30am yesterday (Thursday 10 January 2019).

He was taken to Maitland Police Station, where he was charged with intentionally cause fire and be reckless as to its spread, receive/dispose stolen property, and goods suspected stolen.

Police will allege in court that the man deliberately lit fire, with 22 points of ignition identified across four areas of the fire ground.

Police will also allege in court that the man was in possession of and disposed of stolen bankcards in a bin at Fassifern Railway Station.

The man was refused bail and is due to appear at Maitland Local Court today (Friday 11 January 2019).

Police are also reminding people that they could face penalties if found responsible for the lighting of bushfires – accidental or otherwise.

Penalties relating to bushfires under the NSW Crimes Act, the Rural Fires Act, and Rural Fires Regulation include:

– Damaging property with the intention of endangering life – up to 25 years imprisonment;

– Manslaughter – up to 25 years imprisonment;

– Starting a bushfire and being reckless as to its spread – up to 21 years imprisonment.

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