22 February 2023

Former volunteer firefighter charged over alleged deliberately lit fire

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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Wagga Wagga Local Court

A 33-year-old former firefighter faces Wagga Wagga Local Court for allegedly lighting a grass fire and attending the blaze as a volunteer to extinguish it on Kapoopka Road in San Isidore. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

A former volunteer firefighter will face court today for allegedly lighting fires and making false reports of other fires.

Police allege the man deliberately lit the grass fire before attending the blaze as a volunteer firefighter to extinguish it.

It will be further alleged the man made numerous false calls to Triple Zero ‘000’ in 2022, requesting emergency assistance for other fires in the area which either did not exist or were contained prior to emergency services arrival.

Shortly after 2:10 am on 11 December 2022, a passing NSW Ambulance vehicle observed a small grass fire on Kapooka Road in San Isidore, about 7km west of Wagga Wagga, and contacted emergency services.

Crews from the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) arrived and extinguished the flames.

The cause of the blaze was deemed suspicious and referred to police for further investigation.

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In January 2023, Strike Force Tronto, including detectives from the State Crime Command’s Financial Crime Squad Arson Unit, Riverina Police District and RFS Fire Investigators, commenced Strike Force Madrer to investigate this fire and a number of other suspicious fires from December and January in the Wagga Wagga area.

Following inquiries, strike force detectives executed a search warrant and a digital evidence access order at a home on Bardia Street, Ashmont, on 9 February, where they arrested a 33-year-old man.

He was taken to Wagga Wagga Police Station and charged with intentionally cause fire and be reckless as to its spread and make false call to emergency service number.

He was granted conditional bail to appear at Wagga Wagga Local Court today (22 February).

Investigations are continuing under Strike Force Madrer.

Anyone with information about deliberately lit fires is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or Crime Stoppers. Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report information via NSW Police social media pages.

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