Eric Ripper

Eric Ripper

Deputy Premier; Treasurer; Minister for State Development

Judy Edwards

Judy Edwards

Former Minister for the Environment; Science

    Government posts $50,000 reward to beat arson

    24/01/2006 1:00 AM

    The State Government is urging anybody with information on arsonists to come forward and collect up to $50,000.

    Acting Premier Eric Ripper said the Government had posted a $50,000 reward for information, which led to the conviction of people lighting fires in Western Australia.

    Mr Ripper said a new poster launched today highlighted that arson was a heinous crime which put life and property at risk.

    “The Dwellingup bushfire shows just how devastating wildfire can be,” the Acting Premier said.

    “Unfortunately this is only one of many cases of suspected arson. Of all the fires attended, approximately 40 per cent have suspicious indicators or are deliberately lit.

    “The reward scheme provides an incentive for the community to be constantly vigilant.”

    Mr Ripper and Environment Minister Dr Judy Edwards made the announcement as part of a visit to the Dwellingup bushfire zone.

    The fire is suspected to have been deliberately lit and the Police Arson Squad has been called in.

    The reward scheme is a State Government initiative co-ordinated by the Police, Fire and Emergency Services Authority, the Department of Conservation and Land Management and the Insurance Council of Australia.

    Mr Ripper and Dr Edwards visited CALM’s forward control point at the Willowdale mine site east of Waroona and toured parts of the fire ground this afternoon.

    The blaze coincides with the 45th anniversary of the great Dwellingup fires of 1961 when three neighbouring communities were destroyed and more than 140,000ha of forest were burned.

    The fire, which began in a private bluegum plantation near the Murray River south of Dwellingup on Sunday morning, has so far burnt through more than 8,400ha.

    More than 400 staff from CALM, the Forest Products Commission, FESA, the Police and other support agencies are being supported by local volunteer fire brigade members around the clock in a bid to contain the fire.

    Community protection has been at the forefront of bushfire suppression efforts with around 1,500 campers and visitors successfully evacuated from Lane Poole Reserve on Sunday.

    A successful evacuation was also undertaken at the Waroona Dam Caravan Park last night.

    Dr Edwards said the terrain in which the fire was burning had created difficulties in terms of predicting its behaviour.

    “It has been influenced by the deep valleys which are a feature of the Murray River area,” she said.

    “At times the fire has been spotting up to 4km ahead of the main front. This dramatically increases the fire’s forward rate of spread.

    “CALM is using a network of recently prescribed burned buffers, particularly along the southern edge to act as containment lines. This means resources can be directed to the western edges where the risk to private property is considered greatest.”

    Mr Ripper said the State Government’s initiatives had significantly increased funds for FESA and CALM since 2001. This included the introduction of the Emergency Services Levy and greater direct funding for CALM’s overall fire management operations.

    Mr Ripper and Dr Edwards paid tribute to the efforts of the agencies and volunteers involved in the containment efforts.

    “The degree of co-operation among State agencies, local brigades and local governments reflects the strong working relationships which have developed in the past few years,” Mr Ripper said.

    Acting Premier's office: 9222 8788
    Minister for the Environment's office: 9220 5050