Residents should light a fire under arsonists

The annual heat wave, carrying the risk of a volatile bush fire season, is yet to strike – and we have just seen arsonists set about their dangerous actions.

Dubbo police are seeking up to eight young people believed to be responsible for starting a blaze along the western bank of the Macquarie River near the footbridge that crosses the river close to Sandy Beach about 6pm on Monday.

Three fire trucks and 12 firefighters from Dubbo Fire and Rescue were sent to the scene – in an area that has long been a target for arsonists lighting grass fires.

The firefighters turned the situation into a positive by backburning grass and undergrowth that council workers cannot mow and by doing so removed combustible vegetation along the river that could be torched by others.

Police believe the fire was deliberately lit and have appealed to the community for information.

Arson is a crime. The perpetrators place lives and property at risk. That also applies to the lives of the brave firefighters  – whether paid or volunteers – who spend their summer months in the frontline keeping the rest of us safe.

Dubbo and the surrounding area has a long history and a high incidence rate for the crime. Those responsible for lighting fires ignore the risk their actions impose on the lives of others.

Youth is not an excuse. It is not just “kids playing with matches”. It is serious. Residents would be entitled to ask where the parents of the young people involved in Monday’s blaze were. Did they know where their kids were? Have they educated them at all on right and wrong?

Arson is not something to be dismissed with a slap on the wrist. Let them away with it once and they – and perhaps friends under peer pressure – may repeat the offence.

Not only does arson pose a serious threat, it also soaks up firefighting resources and funds, which could be better employed dealing with fires caused by natural events or accidents.

The drenching rains of the past few months gave life to dense undergrowth. Firefighters have warned of potential “tinderbox” conditions when summer heat dries it out. They have enough challenges to face.

Community members should see it as a duty to help combat arson. Anyone with information on potential offenders or arsonists should provide it.