Fire units had been called to eight separate arson incidents taking place across Canberra in just three-and-a-half hours, reported The Canberra Times on this day in 1983.
The fires, which were lit in different suburbs, caused $1 million in damage and dominated more than half of the front page, including photographs of the devastation and the owner of a Shop-Rite supermarket, one of the business targeted in the attacks, being comforted. Four of the targets were supermarkets.
Seven of the incidents occurred in and near shopping centres, with triple zero calls being placed between 1am and 4.42am from Weston, O'Connor, Lyneham, Curtin and Deakin.
Many of the fires were started by different means. A Bedford truck was set alight near Cooleman Court, Weston, while in a laneway behind the Foodmaster Supermarket at O'Connor, rubbish stacked against a fence was set on fire. At the Lyneham shops, two garbage bins were set alight. A spare tyre on the back of a truck was set ablaze, and flaming cardboard boxes sparked the fire which totally destroyed the Deakin Shop-Rite supermarket.
At Deakin, a shocked and emotional audience stood and looked at a pile of blackened bricks and steel, encompassing once well-stocked shelves. The owner, Mr Chris Panagaks, said: "We will rebuild - when, I don't know. I don't know anything."