Arsonists face Gaol, Heavy Fines

People caught deliberately lighting fires during today’s state-wide total fire ban face large fines and lengthy prison sentences, NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell has warned.

 Mr O’Farrell has urged the community to be on alert for arson activity and to report any suspicious behaviour to police.

 “NSW is facing one of its worst fire danger days on record – sadly some people may think this is a time to engage in criminal behaviour and recklessly endanger lives and property by lighting fires,” Mr O’Farrell said.

 “The penalties for arson are substantial.

 “Just lighting a fire during a total fire ban can attract fines of $2,200 and they increase to up to $110,000 if property is damaged.

 “Those who intentionally light a fire also face jail terms of up to 14 years, increasing to 25 years if someone dies as a result of the fire.

 “People who are even momentarily tempted to light a fire tomorrow should take note of these penalties and think again.

 “Police will not hesitate to throw the book at those who want to put the safety of the community at risk.

 “Our emergency services will have their hands full tomorrow as it is – they don’t need their jobs made even harder by people recklessly and deliberately lighting fires.

 “Anyone in the community who notices suspicious activity around bushland or acts of arson in progress, should call Triple Zero (000) or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.”

Member for Baulkham Hills David Elliott called on his constituents to check in on one another during the heat.

“Don’t assume someone else is checking up on your loved ones,” Mr Elliott said.

“I have a habit of regularly sending a short text message to my parents and they know to send one back.

Mr Elliott said people on a budget do not need to suffer at home if they can’t afford to run air conditioning.

“There are plenty of public venues like clubs, pubs and shopping malls where people can go to escape the heat.

“I doubt any licensee in The Hills would begrudge elderly people a few hours in their venue sipping ice water.”