THE Department of Fire and Emergency Services responded to no less than 56 fires in the Perth Hills and East region in the first three weeks of 2018.
The figures, recorded between January 1 and 21, were released to Echo News earlier this week as firefighters battled a blaze that threatened homes in Gidgegannup and another in Kalamunda allegedly lit accidentally by three teenage boys.
Residents on Burgess Road in Gidgegannup were told to leave their homes in the very early hours of January 30 just two weeks after a Sawyers Valley fire burnt 4000 hectares and sent a dark haze across Perth.
The all clear was given for the Kalamunda bushfire along Kalamunda and Canning Roads on Tuesday with Strike Force Vulcan officers giving a written caution to three 14-year-old boys.
Inquiries revealed the boys accidently caused the fire and they were referred to the Juvenile and Family Fire Awareness Program.
Twenty-seven of the 56 fires across the Cities of Swan and Kalamunda and the Shire of Mundaring were bushfires caused by cigarettes (10), deemed suspiscious or lit deliberately (9), by vehicle or farming (2) and accidental fires (6).
WA Police spokeswoman Susan Usher said although they were unable to comment on the DFES figures, arson squad officers believed that their message was getting through to the majority of the local community.
“Unfortunately some people make poor decisions during total fire bans,” she said.
“For example, tossing lit cigarettes out of a car.”
Ms Usher said the Perth Hills area and suburbs with surrounding bushland made easy targets for arsonists.
“Suburbs with vast areas of natural bushland, and where offenders can enter the area undetected, are more susceptible to potential arson related bushfires,” she said.
Now halfway through the fire season, Strike Force Vulcan detectives continue to urge anyone with information on deliberately lit fires to come forward and protect their community.
The remainder of the fires were reported as structural (9) or ‘other’ (20), which include rubbish fires and vehicle fires.
DFES maintained that it still needs the community’s help to reduce the number of preventable and deliberate fires.
“Smokers are reminded to take extra care disposing of their cigarettes as they can very easily spark a bushfire,” DFES North East Superintendent Jon Broomhall said.
Suspicious behaviour can be reported to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or at www.crimestoppers.com.au
By Claire Ottaviano