Two more Wonthaggi fires last week
POLICE believe Wonthaggi’s serial arsonist may not be acting alone.
The revelation comes after two more fires were deliberately lit in the south of town in the past week, including one which gutted another vacant home.
Detective Senior Constable Liza Burrows from Bass Coast Criminal Investigation Unit (CIU) said investigators are continuing to chase leads, with growing concern that there may be more than one disturbed individual behind the crimes.
“We are looking at the possibility of people working together,” she said.
“We don’t think there are multiple arsonists out there working alone.”
Det Burrows said it is possible two or more offenders are behind the attacks, with the likelihood one person is lighting the fires while one or more conspirators are “keeping watch” for passing vehicles or residents.
Det Burrows confirmed local investigators are also now working with members of the Arson Squad, but CIU detectives remain the primary investigators.
The last fire, which was lit at the rear of a Stewart Street property on Friday night, brings the total number of deliberately lit fires, believed to be caused by the same offender(s), to eight in the past 21 days.
Det Burrows said that fire was started with a bunch of leaves in a garden bed, very close to a cement-clad house extension.
“Thankfully it was put out early by a neighbour,” she said.
Once again, the arsonist(s) had only used available materials at the site to start the fire.
Three days earlier, just after midnight on Wednesday, another fire gutted a fully furnished weekender at the corner of Billson and Stewart Streets.
Bass Coast Acting Police Inspector, Mark de Haan, said the fires remain a “huge” concern to police.
“Whilst most of the fires have occurred at homes that might have been unoccupied, there were some occupants at some of the more recent incidents,”
“There is a great concern and potential for injury or loss of life.”
Inspector de Haan said police are working with Bass Coast Shire Council and local real estate agents to track down the owners of vacant homes in the area and make them aware of the incidents.
He reminded all residents in the area to remain vigilant and make sure waste around properties is cleared.
“The majority of fires have been lit using no accelerants, only available materials,” he noted.
“The fires have been lit using cardboard or anything that is readily available.”
Inspector de Haan stressed that the fires have thus far been opportunistic in nature.
“As far as we can see, there has been no evidence individuals have been targeted.”
He also confirmed police have their eye on “a number” of suspects, but none have been interviewed.