Canberra: Hundreds of Australians have been arrested for deliberately starting the devastating bushfires since September, that have so far claimed the lives of 25 people, it was reported on Tuesday.
The Australian newspaper said in a report that the people were arrested in New South Wales (NSW), Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, the worst hit states, reports Xinhua news agency. In NSW alone, 183 people have been charged or cautioned for bushfire-related offences since November, with 24 arrested for deliberately starting bushfires. While in Victoria 43 were charged and in Queensland, where the fires were worst in November, 101 people have been arrested for deliberately starting fires, almost 70 per cent of whom were juveniles.
According to James Ogloff, the director of the Forensic Behavioural Science at Swinburne University, approximately 50 per cent of Australia's bushfires were started by arsonists. "They're interested in seeing fire, interested in setting fire and quite often the information around how fires burn and accelerate excites them," he told News Corp.
The University of Melbourne's associate professor Janet Stanley said that arsonists, or "firebugs", were typically young males aged either 12 to 24 or 60 and older. "There is no one profile, but generally they seem to have a background of disadvantage, a traumatic upbringing and often have endured neglect and abuse as a child," she said.
Brendon Sokaluk, a former volunteer firefighter, was sentenced to 17 years and nine months in jail for starting a 2009 bushfire in Victoria that killed 10 people on Black Saturday, one of Australia's worst bushfire events.