WE RESPECT that the police have their methods of investigation.
That they often need to keep details of crimes close to their chests until such time as they are able to make an arrest.
And we also understand that a worried community might jump to conclusions.
But there are also times when public safety is at risk or at the very least, when public concerns need to be allayed.
And after last Saturday night, when four separate fires were deliberately lit within a small area of Wonthaggi South, this is one such time when the police hierarchy need to come out and make a public statement about what has happened, what they are doing about it and what precautions we might take as home owners and community members.
Wonthaggi Fire Brigade first lieutenant Jamie Moresco was on TV last Sunday, issuing a warning about people staying alert to suspicious activity in their areas.
It was a welcome, if worrying confirmation that something serious is indeed happening. But what is going on?
Last Saturday night, in one of the incidents, a family was asleep in their home while an adjoining carport and car was engulfed in a raging blaze and remained asleep until the volunteer fire officers arrived and alerted them to the danger.
And if you listen to other comments around the town, a fire bug has been active in the community for at least a year, that the methods for starting the fires are the same in all cases. Should we have been warned?
Here are some dates:
• January 17, 2014 – house fire 5 Garden Street
• January 24, 2014 – 5 Garden Street (again)
• February 9, 2014 – Coldon display house burnt
• February 26, 2014 – Coldon display house (again)
• March 6, 2014 – More Coldon fires (two ignition points)
The comments provided to the Sentinel-Times include that an active local fire bug has had 12 months off and is back again but more brazen, lighting a fire in Dickson Street a fortnight ago and four fires last Saturday night.
Police say they don’t know if any or all of the fires are related and have frankly declared that they have no suspects.
We appreciate that the police wouldn’t want to escalate community concerns beyond manageable levels but after last Saturday night, they should at least make a definitive statement.
A community meeting might also be a consideration at this point.
Fire fears need to be addressed – SENTINEL-TIMES COMMENT