FIRE INVESTIGATIONS: The RFS is working with NSW Police to investigate a significant jump in the number of bushfires in the Northern Rivers last month.
FIRE INVESTIGATIONS: The RFS is working with NSW Police to investigate a significant jump in the number of bushfires in the Northern Rivers last month. Casino Yorklea RFS

Investigators looking into more than 50 fires across region

USING a camera, GPS and a portable weather station, fire investigator Angus Bullough has spent the past two days examining and documenting the scene of dozens of brushfires which occurred in the region last month.

The New South Wales Rural Fire Service professional was accompanied by NSW Police detective-sergeant Cheryl Cook to investigate the significant jump in fires which occurred on the Northern Rivers in July.

Temporarily based at the RFS Northern Rivers zone office at Casino, Mr Bullough and Dect-Sgt Cook are investigating a recent spike of illegal and escaped fires.

"We are here to assist the local office in reconciling those incidents as currently statistics-wise we are looking at 22 incidents which have requested a fire investigation and 34 incidents which are being reviewed for possible legal action," he said.

"The legal action could be implement by either the RFS or NSW police force depending on circumstances."

Mr Bullough and Det Sgt Cook have reviewed fires in areas including Casino, Kyogle, Lismore and the Richmond Valley.

"Det Sgt Cook is looking into the legal issues, while my job is to go out and trace the fire back to its point of origin and determine from there how the fire started and its cause," he said.

"We understand some landowners have being using fire for land-management for several years but just as there are laws around driving on the road, there are laws around fires on a property, especially now the bushfire permit period has kicked in."

Mr Bullough said land owners in the region had been very positive.

"My experience here has been fantastic, local land owners are extremely receptive and quite welcoming," he said.

"This community has its heart in the right place but there is an issue with the spike prior to the bushfire permit period."

Det Sgt Cook said all incidents where a breach has been identified will have some legal process.

However, she said it was too early to indicate how many incidents would receive attention from the police or RFS.

"Some landowners may receive a letter of caution, others may go further," she said.

Last month a land owner in west of the NSW was issued with $3300 in fines after a burn-off lit on a rural property escaped containment lines and threatened neighbouring homes.



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