FIREBUGS could now face more than two decades in prison if they are caught deliberately lighting bush fires.
The state government wants to increase the maximum sentence from 14 to 21 years.
And Tamworth Rural Fire Service captain Allyn Purkiss thinks it’s a fantastic idea.
“New South Wales has one of the lowest penalties in Australia and it just goes to show how serious the government are about tackling this type of arson,” he said.
“It destroys lives, property, livestock – it’s very dangerous because of the speed bush fires travel at.”
Controlling bush fires can cost more than $1 million per day.
A statewide database tracks arson trends and is used by police, fire investigators and national parks to capture people who deliberately light fires.
It destroys lives, property, livestock – it’s very dangerous because of the speed bush fires travel at.- Allyn Purkiss
The news comes as Tamworth prepares to move into a significant fire danger and heatwave period over the next few days.
The RFS drought index shows Tamworth and surrounds need another 100ml of moisture to replenish rivers and dams that firefighters use in emergency situations.
That, coupled with increased fuel in the form of dry grass and dead vegetation, is causing firefighters concern Mr Purkiss said.
“It’s elevated temperatures and lower humidity, the wind at this stage doesn’t look too bad but some possibly will push up by Sunday,” he said.
“We expect very high fire dangers to continue for the next three or four days with possible total fire bans – the wind will be the tipping point.”
Temperatures of 34 to 36 degrees are forecast for the next three days in Tamworth.
It’s hotter than usual for this early in the season, meteorologist Anita Pyne said.
“We’ve had mild conditions recently and these sudden changes in the temperature impacts more vulnerable populations like the elderly and sick,” she said.
“We are expecting elevated fire dangers for the next few days because it’s hot dry and potentially a bit windy - all bad conditions with fires.”
The hot conditions are expected to hang around into the middle of next week.
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