| 23.09,19. 11:15 PM |
QFES volunteer charged with deliberately lighting bushfires
Volunteer firefighter Harley Ian Smith has been charged over allegedly lighting fires in Queensland. (Supplied)
An 18-year-old rural firefighter has been charged with deliberately lighting three different fires in South East Queensland.
Harley Ian Smith is accused of lighting the fires on Saturday night on the outskirts of Nanango, about 200km north-west of Brisbane.
All three fires came metres from destroying family homes.
"This could have, if it got real bad, almost killed at least a few families, taken down a few houses," resident Jacki Sullivan told 9News.
Police say two of the fires were just 150 metres apart from each other next to the rail trail on the Nanango Brooklands Road.
Smith has been a volunteer with the East Nanango Rural Fire Brigade for the past 12 months. Police claim the 18-year-old lit one fire, then another. Residents woke to furious flames.
"Spread pretty quick. Could have done a lot of damage but luckily it didn't," Mr Sullivan said.
Firefighters were quickly on the scene and able to put out the separate blazes.
"It is a little bit worrying," Senior Sergeant David Tierney said.
"To know somebody, they've worked with or somebody they knew has to go put those fires out."
Detectives claim Smith started a third fire in a skip bin shortly afterwards, just a few hundred metres away on G.S. Wilson Drive.
"I was sitting in the lounge room it was about 10.30 at night, and I heard 'whoosh.' That sounded odd so when I walked outside that's when I saw the 12-15 foot flames," witness Clive McFarlane told 9News.
It is understood Smith wasn't called out to fight the fire but did happen to be at the scene, raising investigators suspicions.
He was arrested and charged yesterday with two counts of lighting an unauthorised fire and one count of wilful damage.
He is due to appear in Nanango Magistrates Court on October 31.