A VOLUNTEER firefighter has been charged with lighting fires near his home and making a string of false reports of fires to the 000 emergency number.
Jarred Brewer, 19, will appear in the Melbourne Magistrates Court this morning charged with five counts of intentionally lighting a bushfire and 16 counts of improper use of emergency services.
The Country Fire Authority volunteer was arrested early yesterday morning as he drove near his home in Darraweit Guim, a hamlet off the Hume Highway west of Wallan.
In the Broadmeadows Magistrates Court yesterday, police prosecutor Senior Constable Renee Azzopardi alleged Brewer lit five fires between October last year and January 15, at Wallan and Mount Disappointment.
It is alleged Brewer, who is a member of the Darraweit Guim CFA, lit a fire at Mount Disappointment on Christmas Day, attended by several CFA trucks, manned by volunteers.
The fire burnt only five square metres of bush. Police allege Brewer used diesel fuel, aerosols, sparklers and matches to start the fire.
Brewer's fingerprints were found on a fuel container and aerosol cans left at the scene, Senior Constable Azzopardi told the court yesterday.
Brewer allegedly lit two fires on January 15 in grassland in Wallan, using a box of firestarters in a plastic bag and a barbecue igniter. Closed-circuit television footage taken from the Wallan Safeway supermarket shows Brewer at the store the morning before the fires carrying a plastic bag, he said.
Shop register records show the items used to start the fires were bought from the supermarket at the time Brewer was there, the court heard.
The court also heard that a week later, Brewer went to the Darraweit Guim CFA hoping to attend a fire call-out, but became enraged when he was not allocated a truck.
Police have alleged he called 000 on 16 occasions to report fires that did not exist, and removed the SIM card from his mobile phone in the mistaken belief it would make his call untraceable.
Police believe Brewer called 000 to report false incidents in the hope it would stretch CFA resources so that his unit would be called to a fire, Senior Constable Azzopardi said.
Brewer is under further investigation over several other fires, including a fire at Mount Disappointment last Thursday, the court was told.
He was remanded in custody for his court appearance today.
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