A man from New South Wales accused of lighting a fire in Victoria has been threatened with death by an angry community.
Michael Truong, 36, without a permanent address, was arrested last week by the locals of Johnsonville – about 20 miles east of Bairnsdale in the blasted East of Victoria.
Daily Mail Australia is told that Truong was confronted with a horde of angry locals during his appearance at the Bairnsdale Magistrates’ Court, where he was accused of lighting a bushfire.
Michael Truong, 36, was arrested by a group of concerned citizens after allegedly seeing him light a fire in East Gippsland
A fire fighting helicopter tackles an old fire near Bairnsdale in the East Gippsland region of Victoria on New Year’s Eve. Michael Troung is accused of starting a bushfire in the same region
More than half a billion acres of land in Victoria has burned out in East Gippsland, with dozens of property lost and many remote communities without power and telephone coverage.
Three people were found to be dead in eastern Victoria, with Mat Kavanagh’s death confirmed as a bushfire related last Friday.
Buchan man Mick Roberts was identified as the first victim of the bushfire emergency, while Maramingo Creek woodworker Fred Becker was confirmed dead on the weekend.
Truong was approached by suspicious residents, including a captain from the Country Fire Authority, after seeing the licensed vehicle hanging around New South Wales in Bushland.
Upon closer inspection, the residents claimed that Truong had set fire to thick sheets of paper.
Remains of a burned-out home that was hit by a fire at the end of December can be seen in Bruthan South, Victoria in the same region where Truong reportedly started a bushfire
Angry residents went to a Facebook page of East Gippsland and had their anger expressed against Troung. Some asked him to be hanged at the courthouse
Carnage: Firefighters set fire to New Year’s Eve just outside of Bairnsdale. Michael Truong has been accused of starting a small fire in the region that did not last
Their reaction saw the fire extinguish quickly and Troung was taken into custody by the police.
Detective Sergeant Margaret Schulz, of the East Gippsland Criminal Investigation Unit, praised the individuals for averting a potential disaster.
“He was (caught) immediately, because of the location, the neighbors were seated immediately and they called the CFA,” she told Daily Mail Australia.
“It was a very small fire and it is certainly not linked to what is going on with all the other fires. All our fires were started by lightning strikes. “
Reportedly, Troung fled the road, but was pursued and arrested by the residents involved until the police arrived.
Michael Truong is led from the Bairnsdale Magistrates’ Court after his arrest
The police believe that Truong has been living in his car for quite some time and it remains unclear why he had traveled south to Victoria.
Despite widespread rumors within the community polluted by fire, Detective Schulz said that Truong was only suspected of lighting that one fire.
“There is currently no information that he was responsible for anything else. He clearly has some problems, “she said.
Truong allegedly refused to cooperate with the police and complained in the execution of a bail request without legal representation to the magistrate that the residents who held him “had slapped his windows”.
But rattling windows are the least worries of the alleged firebug if responses to social media are something to follow.
A burned-out building in Bruthen South, Victoria, last month. It is in the same region that Michael Truong has reportedly lit a fire
Angry residents ask for blood after Troung was accused of lighting a bushfire
“Baste him from the front of the courthouse,” an angry person writes on Facebook after the arrest.
‘Fire bugs must be dropped in the middle of a bushfire from a distance of 30,000 feet. But give them a parachute so that they don’t get hurt when landing, “another wrote.
“He should be beaten with extreme prejudice on a horse,” it continued.
Detective Schulz said she believed that the people who held Truong were “quite reticent.”
“I actually thought he was lucky nothing more had happened,” she said. “Lord only knows what his plan was or why he did it.”
At the end of last year, 12 people in Victoria were accused of causing forest fires.
While Truong will appear in court again in April, the police in the destroyed area are prepared for a long rut until then.
“It’s a marathon and we’re just at the beginning,” Detective Schulz said. “Notoriously February is very bad for fires, so I can’t see how we end up unscathed.”