Search begins for Royal National Park arsonist as two men charged following day of high drama

A 19-year-old man has been charged with impersonating an emergency services officer after he was arrested dressed in a Fire and Rescue NSW uniform near Loftus. Picture: File image
A 19-year-old man has been charged with impersonating an emergency services officer after he was arrested dressed in a Fire and Rescue NSW uniform near Loftus. Picture: File image

A 19-year-old man has been charged with impersonating an emergency services officer after he was arrested dressed in a Fire and Rescue NSW uniform.

Officers from Sutherland Police Area Command were told that a man dressed as a firefighter had been seen riding a motor scooter in the Royal National Park while it was closed to the public.

The man was arrested on Farnell Avenue, Loftus, about 9.30pm on Tuesday and taken to Sutherland Police Station where he was charged with impersonate emergency services officer and having goods in custody suspected of being stolen.

He was released on strict conditional bail to appear in Sutherland Local Court on December 4.

The 19-year-old was one of two men charged across the state after they were found in possession of emergency service paraphernalia suspected of being stolen or illegally obtained.

On a day when the fire danger was classified by authorities as "Catastrophic" five people were found to have breached the total fire ban in the past 24 hours.

One of them was a 26-year-old Rockdale man who was issued with an infringement notice after he allegedly lit a fire in a makeshift incinerator in the backyard of a home on Bay Street, Rockdale, to dispose of rubbish.

In another incident, St George Police attended Silver Jubilee Park in Bardwell Valley following reports of youths setting off illegal fireworks.

The fireworks are believed to have started a grass fire with NSW Fire and Rescue and RFS tankers attending and extinguishing the fire.

No one has been charged over the incident.

State Emergency Operations Controller Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys said said that it was disappointing that the actions of a few had the potential to impact negatively on the rest of the community.

"The vast majority of people really banded together and supported each other during a time of catastrophic danger. It's unacceptable that the actions of these few individuals endangered the lives and property of others, either intentionally or through ignorance.

Police are now turning to the community for assistance as investigations begin into several bushfires suspected of being deliberately lit during yesterday's state-wide total fire ban.

One of the fires suspected of being lit by arsonists was in the Royal National Park near Loftus.

Smoke from the fire burning in the Royal National Park near Loftus. Picture: @amyjanevisionm, Instagram

Smoke from the fire burning in the Royal National Park near Loftus. Picture: @amyjanevisionm, Instagram

At 6.49pm, a triple zero call was received to a report of a bush fire near Farnell Avenue, in the national park.

Firefighters from FRNSW, NPWS and RFS responded with a significant amount of resources, due to conditions. The fire crews were able to quickly contain two fires before they were spread by the southerly change.

Last night RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said the fire in the Royal National Park had "multiple ignitions" and was "clearly suspicious" .

"We're working very closely with police and relevant authorities," Mr Fitzsimmons said.

Commissioner Worboys praised the community for working together yesterday and again has asked for their help.

"It has been heartening to see the community working together as we experienced catastrophic fire conditions over the past few days," Deputy Commissioner Worboys said.

"Now we need help from the community again - this time to assist our detectives who are beginning investigations into the cause of fires suspected of being deliberately lit across several police area commands and police districts."

As investigations continue, police are urging anyone who may have seen anything suspicious or has information about the following fires from yesterday to contact the relevant police station or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.