Australia is burning. Enormous bushfires are engulfing huge swaths of the country’s eastern coast and spreading rapidly through western Australia as well. In just one week, four people have died from the fires and 300 homes have been destroyed. And the situation will only get worse, fire chiefs warn, as drought conditions, rising temperatures and high winds fan the flames. But while climate and environmental conditions are responsible for the rapid growth of Australia’s raging bushfires, law enforcement says individual arsonists are responsible for sparking them.
One of the accused is a 51-year-old resident of Ebor in New South Wales. Police have accused the man, whom they’ve identified as Gavin James Gardiner, of intentionally igniting bushfires in order to safeguard his cannabis crop. The suspect appeared in court on Saturday, where he faced arson charges for lighting the Ebor fire. That fire is still burning and has grown to encompass nearly 25,000 acres of land.
Man Attempts to Save Cannabis Crop by Backburning, Police Say
Over the weekend, fire crews in New South Wales and Queensland battled more than 120 bushfires across roughly 2.5 million acres of land. Faced with a fire emergency of such scope and size, with conditions