FIRE WATCH: Cameras to catch firebugs announced with fire ban
HIDDEN cameras will be installed in state forests around Casino in an effort to catch arsonists.
The Forestry Corporation also announced that ranger patrols will be ramped up following a spate of suspicious fires.
Forest protection manager Karel Zejbrlik said many fires had been deliberately lit in North Coast state forests and timber plantations in the past week, putting communities and forest visitors in danger.
"It is sickening that anyone would recklessly endanger people's lives by deliberately lighting a fire and we are pulling out all stops to catch the people responsible," he said.
One hundred and twenty infra-red equipped cameras that can photograph faces and number plates will be hidden in strategic locations throughout north coast state forests.
The announcement of hidden cameras comes with a total fire ban day put in place for Sunday for the Northern Rivers.
NSW Rural Fire Service said a severe fire danger is predicted for Kyogle, Lismore and Richmond Valley Council areas.
No solid fuel fire may be lit in the open today and all permits remain suspended.
Zejbrlik said the region's fire season has been declared early.
"With the forests and conditions as dry as they are, we are already on high bushfire alert, with additional firefighters and equipment on standby," he said.
"So far we have managed to get these deliberately lit fires under control and we are doing whatever we can to put a stop to these arson attacks to prevent a deliberately lit fire taking hold and threatening local homes and communities."
Additional rangers will patrol North Coast forests every day looking for anything suspicious and recording the details of every number plate on every vehicle in the forest.
Hefty fines will apply to anyone in breach of the ban and residents are urged to report all unattended fires to 000.
"We are also urging members of the community to help us catch these criminals by contacting Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000 if they see anything suspicious," Mr Zejbrlik said.
For more information about Solid Fuel Fire Bans, visit www.forestrycorporation.com.au.
Information about total fire bans is available from the Rural Fire Service www.rfs.nsw.gov.au