Police believe a grass fire outside the Brumbies rugby club headquarters and another that took eight hours, 19 crews and a water-bombing helicopter to extinguish were arson.
It comes in a week when the ACT’s fire danger rating has been elevated to ‘‘very high’’ for Thursday, with sweltering conditions expected for the rest of the working week.
Canberrans will sweat through a hot and mostly sunny day, with the Bureau of Meteorology predicting light west to north-westerly winds and a maximum temperature of 37 degrees.
Fire outside Brumbies' headquarters
Fire outside Brumbies' headquarters. Photo: Graham Tidy
Friday will be even hotter, with a maximum temperature of 38 degrees expected, but isolated showers and thunderstorms may bring some relief in the evening.
Police said they were looking for witnesses to two deliberately lit grass fires at the Stony Creek Nature Reserve on Tuesday and the Griffith Park Nature Reserve on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, Brumbies players were filming a promotional video for Fox Sports inside when smoke started to appear outside their Griffith headquarters.
Players – some in their playing kit – rushed down with fire extinguishers and water to try to stop the fire gaining momentum. However, it started to grow, and fire crews were required to ensure it did not encroach on the Brumbies’ offices.
The fire was at the bottom of the bowling greens at the club’s headquarters, close to Flinders Way. It burnt a hedge about 50 metres from the players’s gym and only 10 metres from the new post-training recovery centre.
The Stony Creek fire took 19 firefighting units eight hours to control and needed the help of earth moving machinery and helicopter water bombing. The fire burnt about 10 hectares.
“Around 2.45pm, the ACT Rural Fire Service attended the Stony Creek Nature Reserve on the eastern bank of the Murrumbidgee River, about 1.5km south of the Uriarra Crossing to fight a large grass fire,” police said.
Police are treating both fires as suspicious and ask anyone who may have been in the areas at the time to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or at www.act.crimestoppers.com.au.
Meanwhile, fires continued to blaze around NSW on Wednesday.
Fred Nichols, fire mitigation officer for the NSW Rural Fire Service’s Monaro team, said crews would be working in the difficult conditions to hold containment lines on a Yarrabin fire near Cooma that had been burning since January 6.
The fire had already covered 12,200 hectares, destroyed two houses and killed 700 stock animals.