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FIRE UPDATE | Police Taskforce Created To Target Arsonists

UPDATE | It has been revealed that as many as eight fires burning across Queensland were deliberately lit by children.  

Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said they have discovered that ten fires burning across Queensland were deliberately lit, including the one at Peregian.

"Eight of those, and in all eight circumstances, juveniles have been involved in lighting those fires.

Police Commissioner Carroll added "there's been children dealt with under the Youth Justice Act, cautioned within restorative justice, as well as juveniles arrested".

She said "some of these have been just kids playing with fire, some deliberate and obviously some repeat offences so they have been dealt with in varied ways".

Police Commissioner Carroll urged parents to talk to their children about the devastating consequences of these actions.

She said in one case, a child had been playing with fire and it just got away from them and became a larger fire.

Additional Firefighters are being brought to Queensland from states including Victoria, South Australia, the ACT and New South Wales.

The plan is to give Queensland crews a break before conditions reintensify over the weekend.

EARLIER | There are predictions on Tuesday that a wind change will see the Peregian bushfire change direction and head west towards Lake Weyba  

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad has congratulated the efforts of Firefighters for protecting Sunshine Coast properties, she said "it was nothing short of a miracle when you consider the ember storm that was engulfing those communities, unpredictable and quickly that fire emerged yesterday".

Richard Wardle from the Bureau of Meteorology said "we're mindful that there are folks out there that are impacted by these fires over the past few days and hopefully after today there will be a respite during Wednesday and Thursday as those winds die down but unfortunately the long term outlook is that we expect above average temperatures for Friday and Saturday at least so we expect to see those 'very high fire danger ratings' continue or return at the end of the week".

He said we currently have 'very high' fire danger warnings in place for much of the state, with that very dry air mass in place.

Mr Wardle said we will see the winds pick up during the day on Tuesday, but they will ease later in the day.

There is a fair amount of smoke hovering over coastal areas in south east Queensland but that is expected to shift inland during the day.

The dust cloud has moved off the coast and over the ocean now.

He said we cannot expect to see any significant rain fall over the fire-affected areas.

Fire Commissioner Katarina Carroll has announced the QPS will establish a task force to prevent, disrupt and investigate suspicious fires across Queensland.

Taskforce Overcross incorporates investigative, intelligence and other specialist resources as required.

Commissioner Katarina Carroll said as part of the task force, the QPS State Crime Command would coordinate all investigations into suspicious fires around the state.

“Taskforce Overcross will be proactive in working to prevent deliberately or recklessly lit fires.

“Some of the fires could be down to carelessness or a misunderstanding of conditions. However, it appears other fires have been deliberately lit with the intention of causing damage or worse.

“Arson is a very serious offence that can lead to life imprisonment and police will be relentless in investigating any suspicious fires.

“The community is asked to work with authorities to prevent fires. In these dangerous conditions please do not use equipment which could risk sparking a fire.

“Anyone who either inadvertently or deliberately starts a fire is putting life and property at significant risk,” Commissioner Carroll said.

If you have information for police, contact Policelink on 131 444 or provide information using the online form 24hrs per day.

You can report information about crime anonymously to Crime Stoppers, a registered charity and community volunteer organisation, by calling 1800 333 000 or via crimestoppersqld.com.au 24hrs per day.

Commissioner Carroll also pleaded with parents to speak to their children about the consequences of lighting fires in these conditions. The consequences can be dire "people can die, property can be lost".

She said they have hundreds of Firefighters as well as staff from the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service on the ground across the state and fighting very large fires.

They are keeping an extra close eye on around eight fires; the ones of highest concern are the Sarabah fire, near Canungra on the Gold Coast. The QFES expects to be at this location for days or even weeks.

Ms Carroll said the other fire they were worried about is the Peregian Springs blaze, which broke out on Monday.

She said they have been enlisting the help of Fire Behavious Analysts and Specialists, which have been providing very quick and accurate predictions.

She said they used that information to resource that fire, to warn the community very early to make sure no one was injured.

She advised that while Peregian remains an 'active fire' they are confident that using these predictions, they will be able to continue protecting assets.

By Michelle Price