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Lighting Open Air Fires

Lighting of Fires in the Open Air is when you light a fire and the fire damages property or threatens someone else’s life or property. Or when you light a fire and you leave the fire without putting someone else in charge of watching the fire.
Lighting of fires in the open air is a summary offence heard in the Magistrates’ Court.
 
What is the legal definition of Lighting of Fires in the Open Air?
A person lit or used a fire in open air, and the fire damaged property or endangered the life or property of another person. Or a person lit a fire in open air and left the fire without putting anyone else in charge of the fire.

Examples of Lighting of Fires in the Open Air
  • A man lights a very large bonfire close to his neighbour’s shed.
  • A woman lights an open fire next to the tent of other campers, and leaves the fire without telling any of her friends to watch the fire.
Legislation
The section that covers this offence is section 11 of the Summary Offences Act 1966.
 
  • You were not responsible for lighting the fire.
  • The fire did not endanger the life or property of someone else.
  • You put someone else in charge of the fire
There are other possible defences, depending on the circumstances surrounding the alleged offending. Each matter is unique and requires an individual approach and strategy.

Questions in cases like this
  • Were you responsible for lightening the fire?
  • Where was the fire?
  • Was the fire close to any property or people?

 

The maximum penalty for Lighting Open Air Fires (s11 of the Summary Offences Act 1966) is 25 penalty units or imprisonment for 12 months, or both.

What can you be sentenced to for this charge?
In serious cases where the fire has caused extensive damage, you may get some months in prison. However in most cases you are likely to receive a fine or a Community Corrections Order.