Charges dropped over Wooroloo fire

The charges were dropped against the accused three years to the day the fires began.
February 8, 2024

LAST week the man accused of starting the 2021 Wooroloo bushfires had all charges dropped just days before he was due stand trial.

Daniel Gunter Preuss was set to begin trial this week, but on Thursday, February 1, three years to the day the fire began, prosecutors dropped the charges against him.

Public prosecutor Tracy Tan told the court the charges against the 42-year-old were being discontinued because there were no reasonable prospects of a conviction.

On July 16, 2021, Mr Preuss was arrested and charged with starting the fire with an angle grinder he was using to remove a padlock from a sea container on his property.

Since he was charged, Mr Preuss has denied the accusation of failing to reasonably ensure that an ignition source would not cause a fire that could not be controlled.

The Wooroloo bushfire started on February 1, 2021, near Werribee Road, during a total fire ban and a five-day COVID lockdown.

Weather conditions on the day only contributed to the devastation with a daytime temperature of 38 degrees and strong winds causing the fire to spread rapidly.

The fire raged until February 7, destroyed 86 homes, burnt through close to 11,000ha of land, and cost insurers almost $100 million.

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