YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Australia Finds Arson Devices

January 03, 2002|From Associated Press

SYDNEY, Australia — As blazes continued raging around Australia's largest city and thousands fled their homes today, police discovered the remains of what might have been two homemade bombs used by arsonists to set tinder-dry forests afire.

More than 100 bush fires burning out of control near Sydney and in its suburbs were being fanned by hot, dry and swirling winds. Smoke clouds towered above the city of 4 million people.

At Sussex Inlet, a coastal hamlet about 120 miles south of Sydney, about 5,000 residents and summer vacationers fled a massive firestorm that engulfed as many as 12 homes and damaged others.

That brought to almost 160 the number of houses lost since Christmas Day.

Firefighters, mostly volunteers, waged a house-by-house battle to save lives and property.

New South Wales state Premier Bob Carr vowed to punish those "driven by madness and wickedness" to start fires.

Authorities say at least half the wildfires have been deliberately set, and police have arrested 21 suspects.

As the hunt for more arsonists continued, police said they found the pieces of what appeared to be incendiary devices at two charred bush areas, including one where fierce flames threatened hundreds of homes, just 11 miles from downtown Sydney.

Senior Deputy Police Commissioner Ken Moroney said the device found there was "capable of being ignited and causing substantial damage," national news agency Australian Associated Press reported. He declined to elaborate.

Los Angeles Times Articles