Destroy or Damage Property with Fire or Explosive Laws & Penalties in NSW

Image credit: Ralf Neumann

Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.


It was the bizarre moment a woman boarded a bus and allegedly lit a fire that ended up destroying the vehicle and forcing an evacuation of its driver and passengers on the NSW Mid North Coast.

Around 1:15pm on Thursday 11 March 2021, fire crews by the dozen were called to the corner of Lake and West streets in Forster after reports a bus had caught alight.

According to statements from witnesses given to police, the flames began as a small fire in the onboard toilet in the aftermath of an argument between a passenger and the bus driver.

Nevertheless, it wasn’t long before the bus exploded into a dramatic blaze, placing the lives of those on board at risk – nine passengers who had to be evacuated, along with the driver, who stepped off the bus last and suffered smoke inhalation.

By the time rescue workers arrived at the scene, the blaze had well and truly engulfed the 60-seat vehicle, with the flames smouldering at least double the height of the bus and gusts of black smoke clouding above.

While fire crews were able to extinguish the inferno, the bus was left completely destroyed.

Making matters worse, the fire, damaging power lines above the bus, knocked out all power in the surrounding streets for much of the day, including Forster Police Station.

It is understood the woman fled the scene in an attempt to avoid police arrival.

Meanwhile, the driver was assessed for smoke inhalation, although did not require hospitalisation.


Police Hunt Underway for Arsonist as Fire Believed to Be A Deliberate Attack

Following the incident, officers attached to Manning-Great Lakes Police District conducted extensive inquiries into the woman’s whereabouts and commenced an official search.

Police believe the fire was a deliberate attack.

Addressing the attack, Chief Inspector Tony Moodie said the suspect is believed to be in her mid-20s and it is understood she started arguing with the bus driver when boarding the vehicle.

Inspector Moodie said the “fire really engulfed the bus and completely destroyed the inside of it”.

He commended the efforts of the driver and passengers, saying, “the fact that they all got off, no one was injured, is probably good work by all involved”.


Destroy or Damage Property With Fire or Explosive Laws and Penalties in NSW

In NSW, it is a criminal offence to damage or destroy another person’s property – and when this is done by means of fire or explosives, the penalties become very serious.

According to section 195(1)(b) of the Crimes Act 1900, a person found guilty of destroying or damaging property belonging to another where fire or explosives are used to damage that property can face a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in jail.

Where the aforementioned occurs in the company of another person or persons, the maximum penalty increases to up to 11 years in jail.

Where the aforementioned offences take place in addition to being during a public disorder, the maximum penalty for destroying or damaging the property by fire again increases, to 12 years in jail.

Click here for the law on the meaning of ‘damage’ in criminal law.


Behind the Minds of Firebugs: Why People Deliberately Light Fires

It’s the burning question: Why do people light fires to begin with?

When it comes to simply setting things alight, lecturer in psychology at Southern Cross University, Dr James Donnelly, advises that this behaviour usually begins due to a person’s intrigue with fire, which tends to form at a young age.

Specifically, Dr Donnelly informs that fire-setting behaviour is often recognised in children and adolescents.

The behaviour differs to arson, which is a crime of violence, commonly involving motivations of revenge or financial gain.

“Someone wants to burn down their building for insurance purposes, where they want to pay someone back, where they want to eliminate competition in the neighbourhood,” Dr Donnelly says of arson attacks.

In comparison, fire-setting starts in children due to the appeal of fire itself, encouraging parents to be “very proactive” and educate early if they spot their youngster around the home burning matches, building fires outside or playing with candles.

“Even with children, punishing them doesn’t necessarily make the fascination go away,” Dr Donnelly cautions, urging that children be taught the responsibilities of fire.

About Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia

Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia are Leading Criminal Defence Lawyers, Delivering Exceptional Results in all Australian Courts.


  What Our Clients Say

Dear CDLA team, I cannot thank you enough for the court outcome today. Mr Fouad represented me with all the commitment, energy, information, compassion that I felt myself very well… (read full review) By KS from Sydney on 03/12/2020
When I am mentally stressed, Tayla and the team helped a lot and “balanced” unfairness negotiating with the officers and in front of the court. The outcome was quite satisfactory,… (read full review) By C.K. on 04/11/2020
5-star rating very well deserved to CDLA. The conviction at the lower court was overturned at the district court. Thanks, Fouad for being such a compassionate & thorough professional and… (read full review) By K.V. on 02/11/2020
So I got myself into a bit of mischief earlier this year... after searching and searching for a decent lawyer I came across CDLA, I had Tayla Regan Representing me… (read full review) By L.B. on 09/09/2020
Tayla Regan represented me and got me the perfect result against all odds. The way she handled the entire process and had me in the loop with her way of… (read full review) By M.M. on 15/10/2018

Free Conference Booking Form

Follow Us