Hunt for firebugs on city's fringe
Arsonists are believed to be responsible for a series of fires lit on Melbourne’s fringes this month.
Police confirmed on Tuesday morning that six blazes, two of which ignited in the Dandenong area on Monday and the other four in Sunbury and Diggers Rest on January 7 and 8, were suspicious.
It adds to the growing tally of suspect fires this summer. Police said last week 195 suspicious fires had been lit across Victoria in the past month, while 29 firebugs had been caught.
Detectives are hoping to speak to a group of eight men of African appearance who were seen in the area of the Dandenong fires soon after the blazes began.
The first fire occurred just after 3pm in a small patch of parkland off Box Street in Dandenong. Minutes later a second fire occurred near school grounds on Claret Street in Doveton.
The eight men were all wearing jeans and T-shirts and detectives are appealing for them or anybody who might know who they are to contact police.
The first Sunbury fire began in grassland on Moore Road, which runs parallel to the Calder Freeway, on January 7. About 30 minutes later a second fire was lit near the intersection of Watsons Road and Buckland Way in Diggers Rest.
The third blaze began on Moore Road again near Baggy Green and Keepers streets at 1.09pm on January 8. About one hour later another fire ignited at the Sunbury Bicentennial Park in Vaughan Street.
No one was injured during these fires and no houses were lost, police said.
Assistant Commissioner Stephen Fontana urged people who see suspicious activity to call 000 immediately and to report all fires, no matter how small they are.
‘‘Often there might be a fire that started and it’s gone out and it might be part of a pattern and we might not be aware of it,’’ he said.
People with information about the Sunbury and Diggers Rest fires should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or www.crimestoppers.com.au.