On 2 February 2017 another bushfire was lit, this time in the local area of Sippy Downs.
The Sunshine Coast Police were very quick to find the arsonist but not before sixteen houses were evacuated and many firemen and police had to risk their lives. The arsonist turned out to be a 13 year old boy and his reasons for lighting the fire were unknown. Arson is a crime and preventable, and with all the different services being coordinated daily to try and combat these attacks across Queensland, there is still a great yearly cost of at least $2.3 billion (2011) to our country which we do not need.
With approximately 37 percent of fires being suspicious, and 13 percent deliberately lit in Australia, it is sad to see catching the criminals is often difficult. Research has suggested, in Australia 40 per cent of fires are lit by 15 to 20 year olds, 30 percent are over 30, and 10 percent are children between 10 and 15 years. Half of the people over 15 have been found to be unemployed. The fire at Sippy Downs did occur just after the local school got out and was in a wildlife corridor just next door to the school.
So what can a community do to try to prevent arson?
A crime or arson cannot occur without a suitable target, absence of someone who can prevent arson, and a motivated offender. Some suggestions have included:
- getting landowners involved,
- modifying environment conditions behind schools and houses,
- educating children of the dangers and penalties of arson (particularly before all holidays),
- co-ordinating meetings with community events to educate the people to be aware and on the lookout, and
- helping communities to compare local knowledge, data, statistics, and evidence with the assistance of the Police and Fire agencies.
With global warming, temperatures rising and hot summers, we have a lot of tinder dry grass around, add a bit of wind and an arsonist, and we have the elements for disaster. These conditions are only going to get worse in the future. All communities should be encouraging residents to educate their families.
Arson is a serious crime that can carry a life sentence.
Read P & Stanley J, 2013 Bushfire arson: prevention is the cure, Online, available at http://the conversation.com/bushfire-arson-prevention-is-the-cure-11506, Accessed 15.2.2017
Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC), 2011, Bushfire Arson Prevention Handbook, Online at Http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/current%20series/rip/1-10/11.html Accessed 15.2.17
QPS Media Unit, 2017, Arson Arrest-Sippy Downs, QPS Media Unit @QPSmedia, Twitter.com Accessed 15.2.2017