SA operation targets arsonists early

By Adam Coleman

The South Australian Premier, Mike Rann has suggested national interest is growing in Operation Nomad, an initiative that sees significant police resources dedicated to monitoring known and suspected arsonists before they can light fires.

With some estimates that more than 20 per cent of fires are deliberately lit, Premier Rann told the ABC that fire-fighters in the state felt the police operation, which involved more than 4,000 hours of work during the heatwave, was “an incredibly effective operation”.

"As bizarre as it seems, we’ve got hundreds of people fighting fires, we’ve got 120 people on Saturday stopping people lighting fires," he told the ABC.

South Australia’s Chief Superintendent Silvio Amoroso said Operation Nomad was considered by other states four years ago, but that South Australia is still “the only state that is doing it”.

"My understanding is that back in 2005 the Council of Australian Governments actually had a look at Operation Nomad itself and actually described it as one of the best multi-agency apporach to fire prevention and mitigation throughout the country," he told the ABC.

In a premonition of things to come, back in November last year Premier Rann said: “We do not want to see a repeat of the tragic and devastating fires that scorched the State in the past, such as Ash Wednesday, Wangary and more recently, Kangaroo Island.”

On days of extreme fire danger in South Australia, Police are running Operation Nomad.

Chief Superintendent Amoroso had said the operation gave police “the means and resources to track down anyone who deliberately or negligently lights fires during the fire danger season and last year police apprehended 173 people”.

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