‘Your dead’: Messages expose arsonists
FACEBOOK messages between two young people appear to expose teen arsonists responsible for an out-of-control fire in Queensland as police have established a taskforce to investigate who's behind blazes across the state.
Detectives investigating a fire on the Sunshine Coast have reportedly questioned teenagers after screenshots were posted online showing the young people blaming others for the blaze.
In a message posted online, reportedly linked to the disastrous Peregian Beach blaze, showed a conversation between two people with one blaming another girl for the fires.
"Your (sic) dead," the other person replied.
Three teenage boys reportedly came to the attention of police after allegedly admitting to lighting the Peregian fire in an online chat.
The Peregian Beach Surf and Lifesaving Club posted on their Facebook page that they were sent a screen shot of the chat room message.
The damning exchange has been shared online as it was announced Queensland Police had established a taskforce to investigate blazes across the state, and had already nabbed several alleged young arsonists.
Police have located a 12-year-old boy in Queensland who allegedly lit a fire deliberately that destroyed bushland and part of a storage facility in Slacks Creek in Logan, about 5pm Monday.
The boy was with a group of juveniles in bushland off Kingston Rd, behind Woodridge Skate Park, when he allegedly started the fire, which spread quickly to a nearby storage facility, destroying a fence, two shipping containers and their contents, and police say he will be dealt with under the provisions of the Youth Justice Act.
Another two 14-year-old girls are also assisting police with their inquiries after allegedly deliberately lighting a fire in bushland in Ormeau on the Gold Coast this morning.
About 10.30am on Tuesday, emergency services were called to an estate on the corner of Jondaryan St and Rookwood Dr about a fire that was nearing houses. The bushfire was quickly extinguished.
Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said today that malicious behaviour may have contributed to the bushfire emergency across Queensland.
Police are interviewing a group of teens over the blaze that's destroyed one home in the Peregian Beach area, south of Noosa, and forced hundreds to flee.
"Some of the behaviour, unfortunately, has been reckless and other behaviour has been purposeful," she said.
"Some of the fires have involved children playing and obviously the consequences are dire as a result of that.
"Some of them have been purposeful and malicious. Some fires have clearly just gotten away from kids thinking they're having fun."
Eight fires are in the scope of a taskforce set up by the police to investigate the blazes over the last few days that have destroyed 17 houses across the state and damaged 67 others, Commissioner Carroll said.
There are fears other houses around Peregian may have been lost to the fast-moving blaze that broke out on Monday afternoon and rapidly raced towards the beachside communities.
Acting premier Jackie Trad said it was "nothing short of a miracle" more homes weren't lost.
More than 80 fires are burning across Queensland, with dangerous winds expected to ramp up again on Tuesday afternoon.
The fire affecting Peregian Beach and Peregian Breeze Estate is burning north towards Marcus Beach.
It is not considered to be under control, and the situation remains extremely volatile.
A "leave now" order is current for residents of Peregian Beach, Peregian Breeze Estate and Marcus Beach.
Prepare-to-leave warnings are in place for residents north of the fire front including at Weyba, Weyba Downs, Peregian Springs, and Castaways Beach.
"The frustration, the angst, the uncertainty. You could just see it written all over their faces. These are really trying times," acting Sunshine Coast mayor Tim Dwyer said.
The other major fire of concern on Tuesday is the one that's destroyed at least eight homes and the heritage-listed lodge in the Gold Coast hinterland.
"Hugs are compulsory, not optional at the moment," Scenic Rim mayor Greg Christensen told reporters on Tuesday.
"Clearly, there are some people who are hurting deeply."
It remains out of control but is not threatening any properties, with more favourable wind conditions helping efforts in the hinterland on Tuesday.
QFES has indicated it may have to send some personnel to the Sunshine Coast.
The Bureau of Meteorology expects the fire danger to drop to "high" across much of the state on Wednesday and Thursday due to more moderate winds and higher humidity.
But it's predicted to increase into the weekend due to a rise in temperatures.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has paid tribute to emergency services personnel, volunteers and residents who have worked together in the face of the ongoing threat.