70 new hidden cameras set up in State forests after spate of arson attacks

Seventy additional hidden cameras have been set up in State forests around Wauchope, Taree, the Hunter, Coffs and Casino areas this week and ranger patrols are being ramped up in all State forests to catch arsonists, following a spate of suspicious fires.

Forestry Corporation's Forest Protection Manager Karel Zejbrlik said many fires had been deliberately lit in north coast State forests and timber plantations in the past week, putting communities and forest visitors in danger.

“It is sickening that anyone would recklessly endanger people’s lives by deliberately lighting a fire and we are pulling out all stops to catch the people responsible,” Mr Zejbrlik said.

“We now have a total of 120 infra-red equipped cameras that can photograph faces and number plates hidden in strategic locations throughout north coast State forests and we will have additional rangers out in the forest every day looking for anything suspicious and recording the details of every number plate on every vehicle in the forest.

“We are also urging members of the community to help us catch these criminals by contacting Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000 if they see anything suspicious.

“Fire season has been declared early and with the forests and conditions as dry as they are, we are already on high bushfire alert, with additional firefighters and equipment on standby. So far we have managed to get these deliberately lit fires under control and we are doing whatever we can to put a stop to these arson attacks to prevent a deliberately lit fire taking hold and threatening local homes and communities.”

Solid Fuel Fire Bans currently apply in all State forests except forests in the Snowy Mountains around Tumut and Tumbarumba, meaning campfires and barbecues using wood, charcoal or other solid fuel are banned at all times.

Many parts of the state are expected to reach very high to severe fire danger this weekend, particularly in the northern part of the state, and people should take care in the forests and reconsider their plans for the weekend.

Media contact: Elizabeth Fowler 9407 4265/ 0408 779 903