Desperate hunt for dangerous arsonist linked to 20 fires
AN ARSONIST who has lit upwards of 20 fires and caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage is on the loose in Ipswich's eastern suburbs.
A spate of fires in the Brookwater and Bellbird Park area has police hot on the trail of the arsonist, whom it is believed may be trying to prevent development in the area.
The arsonist first struck on October 14, 2012, at Investa's Brentwood Forest development at Bellbird Park when a $200,000 excavator was firebombed and destroyed along with a large amount of piping.
Initially, two arsonists were suspected but The QT understands the focus is now on one individual.
Fires have been lit on a regular basis since.
Inspector Keith McDonald said police were investigating all the incidents.
"We do have a number of potential leads we are following," he said
"We do have some priority on this, just because of the number of deliberate fires that have been lit.
"Because of the endangerment of life, our main concern is to try and locate and arrest the offender, or offenders… so the contractor can get on and do their work and that the people in the area can live in some peace."
In one incident, Insp McDonald said the arsonist lit at least 12 individual fires in one area of bushland.
Investa Land Queensland general manager Bruce Harper said the company had spent considerable amounts of money on increased security at its Brentwood Estate site.
"We are aware of the incidents and we have been working closely with the police, our security companies and contractors to minimise any damage that is done and any harm that occurs to people and property," he said.
"We are not sure what the person's beef is. We have drawn it to the attention of the council and police and we are co-operating as much as we can with police to assist them.
"We've had to increase our costs in terms of security both around the existing property and to prevent trespassing onto our site.
"It is frustrating for us and for the residents of the area who have chosen to build and live there."
Arson attacks have started to occur in Brookwater on the eastern side of Woogaroo Creek, adjacent to the Brentwood Forest development.
Most of the attacks are between 8pm and 10pm.
Cr Paul Tully described the arsonist as a "madman who needs to be locked up".
"He has caused enormous damage and, if he is not stopped, houses are likely to be his next target," Cr Tully said.
"He doesn't seem to care what he damages or destroys.
"His attacks are becoming more brazen and more dangerous.
"He is extremely elusive and can escape from the area very quickly before the fires he lights take hold."
It is understood the arsonist knows the bushland area well.
He is currently torching the area two or three times a week.