Police launched an investigation on Tuesday into whether the bushfires that have destroyed dozens of properties and forced hundreds of people to flee their homes on Australia's Queensland coast overnight were deliberately lit.
Queensland police announced a special task force to investigate the origins of 80 bushfires that have ravaged south-east Queensland for the past five days with no respite in sight.
Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said in a statement Tuesday that some of the fires were ‘deliberately or recklessly lit with the intention of causing damage or worse.’ ‘Arson is a very serious offence that can lead to life imprisonment and police will be relentless in investigating any suspicious fires,’ Carroll said.
‘Some of them have been purposeful and malicious. Some fires have clearly just gotten away from kids thinking they're having fun,’ she later told reporters.
Police said they were questioning two 14-year-old girls and a 12-year-old boy over separate fires. Another three teenagers are being questioned over a fire that's threatening beachside properties in the popular tourist town of Noosa.
Noosa was on high alert as fires whipped up by high winds hit the nearby Peregian Beach settlement destroying at least two homes overnight, Queensland Fire Emergency Services said.
More than 100 fire crews fought the blaze which broke out near Peregian late Monday.
Sunshine Coast acting mayor Tim Dwyer said the situation was ‘very very tricky’ but residents were heeding warnings and moving to safe places.
A dozen schools were closed in south-eastern Queensland and a thousand properties were without electricity as authorities cut power for safety reasons.
Hundreds of firefighters were also battling 58 bushfires in northern New South Wales for the fifth day, with fresh outbreaks overnight near the resort town of Yamba, near the border with Queensland.
The fires began Thursday whipped by strong winds, embers leaping large distances spreading flames beyond control of the firefighters.
Even coastal rainforests are tinder dry after a warmer than usual winter and three years of intense drought.
So far 26 homes have been destroyed on Australia's east coast in the earliest start to the bushfire season on record.
Firefighters say it could take several weeks to bring the fires under control as no rain is predicted for weeks.Last updated: September 10 2019 09:46 AM
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