Three 12-year-old boys caught deliberately lighting fires on Australia's South Coast even as 150 bushfires rage across the region
All three have been dealt with under Australia's Young Offenders Act — which seeks to steer young offenders away from court by directing them to alternative forms of intervention — and will be made to attend a youth conference
Three 12-year-old boys in Australia have been punished after they were accused of deliberately lighting fires in New South Wales, even as bushfires continue ravaging the state in what has been one of the most devastating seasons in recent memory.
Two of the boys allegedly lit a grass fire at a reserve in Koonawarra in Wollongong at 10.20 am on Sunday, December 1, according to the Daily Mail. The third is said to have lit a fire behind a sports club on McGregor Avenue in the Wollongong suburb of Warilla at 12.15 pm the same day.
Authorities were notified of the fire immediately, and both were extinguished by emergency services before they could spread further.
All three have been dealt with under the country's Young Offenders Act — which came into effect in 1998 and seeks to steer young offenders away from court by directing them to alternative forms of intervention — and will be made to attend a youth conference.
Speaking about the incident, Lake Illawarra Police District Inspector Brian Pedersen confessed that the number of deliberately lit fires across the district was proving to be a concern.
"It's quite distressing to see young people, in particular, continuing to ignore the message about how dangerous fires can be," he said. "We are urging the whole community to be vigilant and report any suspicious behavior."
An emergency warning has been issued in New South Wales after the bushfires raging across the state doubled in size due to strong westerly winds. Rural Fire Service spokeswoman Angela Burford said that gusts of up to 50 mph were expected to wreak havoc through the week.
The Daily Mail reported that two million hectares of land have been burned since July in more than 7,000 fires across the state, in what has been described as "the most challenging bushfire season ever". Six people have lost their lives, while 673 homes and 1,400 other buildings have been destroyed as well.
As of December 1, there were approximately 150 grass and bush fires burning across NSW, with around 50 of them uncontained.