A TEENAGER accused of deliberately lighting a fire which ripped through a forest near Tamworth has fronted court for the first time.
The young man cannot be named for legal reasons, but appeared in person in Tamworth Children's Court on Tuesday, with two family members there to support him.
Legal Aid solicitor Alex Floyd asked the court for a three week adjournment, which was granted by magistrate Julie Soars.
The 19-year-old was arrested in May and charged with deliberately lighting a fire which police claim destroyed 533 hectares of the Nundle State Forest in October 2019.
The police case is that the man intentionally lit the fire in the Hanging Rock area sometime between midday on October 26, and 6am on October 27, 2019.
Police claim the teenager was reckless about the spread of the blaze, as flames moved onto the public lands of the Nundle State Forest and ravaged its vegetation.
The 19-year-old has also been accused of stealing 200 litres of diesel - about $266 worth - from a Hanging Rock property sometime between midday on October 26, and 6am on October 27, 2019.
Police investigations into the suspicious fire included a public appeal for information and the release of CCTV images, which ultimately led to the accused being arrested on May 25.
The breakthrough came more than a year-and-a-half after the fire broke out.
The teenager is facing charges of intentionally causing fire and being reckless as to its spread; as well as larceny.
He has not yet been required to enter pleas.
Police have said a large amount of pine timber plantation was destroyed when fire ripped through the Nundle State Forest on October 27, 2019, with an estimated damage bill of up to $3 million.
The 19-year-old was released on strict bail after his arrest, which was continued.
The case was adjourned.
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