police probe possible serial arsonist

Catherine MasseyBusselton Dunsborough Times
More than 100 firefighters were called to battle the blazes before a downpour helped bring them under control.
Camera IconMore than 100 firefighters were called to battle the blazes before a downpour helped bring them under control.

Police are hunting for a “disgraceful, disgusting” arsonist responsible for lighting two fires that threatened homes in the Capes on Saturday night.

The fires broke out just hours after the Perth Hills blaze, which destroyed 86 homes before it was finally brought under control.

The fires — 11km apart — began about the same time from six separate ignition points, and police said recent and historic fires would be looked into to determine if they were dealing with a serial arsonist.

One of the fires was extinguished just 3km from Yallingup homes and Member for Vasse Libby Mettam said it was “devastating” to hear the fires were a deliberate act.

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“Arson currently has a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and more resources are needed to catch these perpetrators,” she said.

More than 100 firefighters were called to battle the blazes before a “god send” downpour helped bring them under control.

Dunsborough Volunteer Bushfire Brigade fire control officer Andrew Hunt was heartbroken to think someone would get satisfaction out of lighting fires. “Without the rain, it would have been quite catastrophic. Fire is not something you play with, especially in our area at this time of year,” he said.

“It defies common sense; we’re there to support the community and to have someone working against us and putting our lives at risk is upsetting.”

South West District Supt Geoff Stewart said the actions of the firebug were “unfathomable”.

“It’s something that beggars belief,” he said. “We’re going to do everything we can to find who may have been responsible for this.”

Premier Mark McGowan also put firebugs on notice last week.

“Can I say to anyone thinking of deliberately lighting a fire — you will get caught and the penalties are severe, including serious jail time,” he said.

“If someone has deliberately lit a fire after the week we’ve been through, they are just an appalling human being and they will have the book thrown at them. “After the fires at Wooroloo, after the week of COVID, after the flooding up north, to go and light a fire in Yallingup, if that’s what happened, it’s a disgusting, disgraceful act.”

The rain on Saturday and Sunday brought relief to the firefighters battling the Wooroloo blaze.

“I think every one of them out there would say, ‘Yes please’, to the rain rather than two more days of the strong easterly winds that we’ve been experiencing,” Weather Bureau spokesman Neil Bennett said.

People who were in the Injidup or Yallingup townsite area before the fires and saw anything suspicious should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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