Burn-offs and arson raise alarm

Police are treating five dangerous fires started recently in the Clarence Valley as suspicious.
Police are treating five dangerous fires started recently in the Clarence Valley as suspicious. Trevor Veale

FIVE dangerous fires in the Clarence Valley have led to four very busy days for local emergency services.

Police are now treating all these blazes as suspicious and at least three of them may be connected to a group of youths spotted in the area.

The first blaze was at the back of the Saraton Theatre on Saturday night when moviegoers had to be evacuated when the building filled with smoke from a fire in a skip bin behind Andersen's Carpets.

"I don't know why they would carry on like that," Saraton Theatre owner Spiro Notaras said.

He suspected the fire had been lit by youths and pointed to the char marks from a grass fire that had burned up the railway track bank, behind the new Grafton library on Monday night.

Emergency services were back in action on two sides of Grafton on Monday afternoon fighting a grass fire near the saleyards and another near Grafton Base Hospital.

About midnight on Monday, Shaye and Gaggis Corner Store in Fry St, Grafton was severely damaged by another fire.

This spree followed a busy week for rural firefighters and a stark warning from the Rural Fire Service that it may have to declare an early bushfire danger period if property owners lose control of burn-offs.

Supt Stuart Watts, district manager for New South Wales RFS, Clarence Valley, said at least two property owners had been reported to police in the past week after fire crossed boundaries on their properties.

Topics:  fire nsw police rural fire service suspected arson

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