A 40-year-old Wooroloo man has been charged over the devastating bushfires that razed more than 10,000 hectares and destroyed 86 homes in Perth’s north in February.
Police claim the man was using a grinder to remove a padlock from a sea container on his property on Harper Road when a paddock caught alight during catastrophic fire conditions.
The flames quickly spread to nearby properties fanned by gusty easterly winds and razed several homes, sheds, cars, machinery, and livestock. Hundreds of residents were forced to evacuate in neighbouring suburbs as the firefront inched west towards Bullsbrook.
Crews finally managed to bring the inferno under control with the help of aerial support on February 6, after almost a week of gruelling firefighting efforts.
Arson squad detectives first spoke to the 40-year-old on February 3 and started a joint investigation with the Department of Fire and Emergency Services to determine the source of the fire.
State Crime Operations Acting Commander Tony Longhorn said police had used weather data, expert reports and statements from witnesses to identify the source of ignition on the Harper Road property.
“We are not alleging the fire was deliberately lit,” he said.
The 40-year-old has been charged with breaching duty and doing an activity in open air likely to cause a fire, and his bail was refused. He is facing up to 15 years in jail.