Man charged over deliberately lighting two fires

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.

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.

 

More than 100 bushfires are burning across Australia. Source: Geoscience Australia
More than 100 bushfires are burning across Australia. Source: Geoscience Australia

 

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.

 

 

"It's not going to be that dangerous, but it really ramps up at the end of heatwave on Monday."

He said that on Monday, strong winds will "suddenly" pick up and severe heat will hit Victoria, South Australia, NSW and even Tasmania.

Temperatures are set to hit the 40s on the mainland and the mid-30s in Tasmania.

 

Firemen prepare as a bushfire approaches homes on the outskirts of the town of Bargo on December 21, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. Picture: Getty
Firemen prepare as a bushfire approaches homes on the outskirts of the town of Bargo on December 21, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. Picture: Getty

 

RFS commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons told the ABC firefighters are expecting conditions to deteriorate.

"It's certainly going to be another tough period with temperatures up into the 40s, very dry air, very low humidity and the winds turning back around from the west and the northwest," he said.

"Because these fires are large, they're complex and they're very prone to the elements, once these weather conditions turn around, we know we're going to see increased fire activity … "so [firefighters] they're just giving their all to shore up protection and trying to consolidate and contain them as much as they can."

Total fire bans will be in place for Saturday for the Monaro alpine, southern ranges and southern slopes fire regions. These regions will also be under very high fire danger, along with seven others.

 

CFS crews battle a bushfire at Middle Rive on Kangaroo Island. Picture: Sean McGowan.
CFS crews battle a bushfire at Middle Rive on Kangaroo Island. Picture: Sean McGowan.

 

The re-elevated fire risk comes as NSW's Emergency Services Minister David Elliott goes on a family holiday overseas amid the crisis, after Prime Minister Scott Morrison was criticised for going to Hawaii as Australia burned.

About five million hectares of land have burned nationwide over the past few months, with nine people killed and more than 950 homes destroyed. New South Wales has received the brunt of the damage, with around 850 homes razed.

 

Here's what's forecast for bushfire-affected states in the coming days:

NEW SOUTH WALES AND ACT

Very high fire danger is forecast for nine NSW regions and the ACT.

Canberra is forecast to hit a Saturday high of 38C while the mercury will rise to 35C in Batemans Bay, 41C in Griffith and 41C in Gundagai. Sydney will experience a comfortable 29C day but temperatures across western Sydney and on the city's fringe are likely to top 35C. The Bureau of Meteorology expects the fire danger to continue escalating into next week, with increasing heat and dry winds.Temperatures are expected to peak on Tuesday, with New Year's Eve forecasts of more than 40C across western Sydney and in regional NSW.

Total fire bans will be in place for Saturday for the Monaro alpine, southern ranges and southern slopes fire regions.

 

VICTORIA

Statewide heat alerts will be in place on Saturday and Sunday. Melbourne is forecast to reach 43C in some suburbs on Monday. New fires have also been deemed as likely to start as a result of dry lightning, particularly in the east of the state. Authorities urged people to be aware of potentially dangerous fire conditions and has been particularly stressed in East Gippsland.

 

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Very hot and dry conditions through the southern and western Pilbara, Gascoyne and the Interior on Saturday with fresh and gusty northeast to south-easterly winds expected during the day. Extreme Fire Danger is forecast for the following fire weather districts: West Pilbara Coast and Exmouth Gulf Coast.

Severe Fire Danger is forecast for the following fire weather districts: Gascoyne, East Pilbara Inland, Ashburton Inland and North Interior.

 

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

After four days above 40 degrees Celsius last week, similar conditions are expected from Friday to Monday.

A Fire Weather Warning is in place for the Mid North, Mount Lofty Ranges and Yorke Peninsula forecast districts.

It will be warm on the southern coasts, but very hot for the rest with southeast to southwest winds increasing to 25-35 km/h in parts mid to late afternoon.

Possible gusty thunderstorms with not much rainfall early morning, and again north of Adelaide in the afternoon and evening.

Severe Fire Danger is forecast for the following forecast districts: Mid North, Mount Lofty Ranges and Yorke Peninsula.

 

TASMANIA

Tasmania is set for a three-day blast of hot weather, with the mercury tipped to near 40C in parts of the state on Monday.

A total fire ban has been issued from 2am on Saturday to 2am on Tuesday for the eastern half of the island as authorities brace for dry conditions. Hobart is forecast to reach the low 30s on Saturday before peaking at 38C on Monday.

Areas of Tasmania's east and southeast will also reach the high 30s, the Bureau of Meteorology says, with the fire danger expected to be severe. Thunderstorms are tipped to cross the island on Monday evening and Tuesday morning but they'll also bring the possibility of dry lightning.



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