Message from the Chief Commissioner

Task Force Pheonix update

Release date: Wed 11 February 2009

Last updated: Wed 11 February 2009

Detectives from Task Force Phoenix have carried out their initial investigation into what is believed to have caused the bushfires on Saturday 7 February and have identified that there are six main areas of fire.

Arson specialists have made preliminary investigations in to how the fires started and it is believed at this stage that one fire is suspicious, the cause of one fire is yet to be determined and four fires are believed to be non-suspicious.

Six policing operations have been established which cover the six seats of fire which resulted in the deaths of people.

Operation Winston - Callignee



Operation Groove Murrindindi Mill



Operation Angora - Wandong





Operation Spense - Mudgeegonga

Operation Elects - Maiden Gully, Bendigo

Operation Phylon - Redesdale

Assistant Commissioner Dannye Moloney said, "At this early stage in the investigation we are yet to determine the cause of the fires covered by Operation Groove.

"We have already informed the public that we believe the fires covered by Operation Winston are believed to be suspicious.

The four other fires are believed not to be suspicious.

"I would like to stress that these are early indications however we are keen to ensure that the public are made aware of our progress as soon as possible.

"As the investigation progresses there is the possibility that this could change and we are keeping an open mind.

"We know these fires are incredibly emotive and we need the help of the public to assist us with information.

"I would also ask the public to be patient with us regarding these investigations. We will give them information as soon as we are able to do so.

"Misinformation could hamper the investigation and while we understand people are only trying to help when they give information to the media it can cause confusion and lead to the potential for vigilante incidents on innocent people. I would again like to stress the need for responsible reporting.

"We need to ensure that we carry out a very thorough investigation and that if there are perpetrators then we need to find and prosecute them and allow the criminal justice system to process them accordingly."

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