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An Australian man accused with setting fires during the province of Victoria’s bushfire season has been subjected to a monsoon of death threats for what locals believe was his role in setting the country ablaze.
Michael Truong, 36, was arrested 20 kilometres east of Bairnsdale by Johnsonville police last week, and has since had to deal with waves of death threats during his court appearance, where he was charged with starting bushfires.
Over 500 million hectares of land in Victoria has burnt out in the East Gippsland area, with three people confirmed dead. In total, more than 25 have died in this year’s fires, with an estimated 500 million animals also dying.
Truong was setting fires in the bushland when he was approached by local residents who grew suspicious of him and his loitering vehicle. Residents say that Truong was setting ablaze shrubbery with paper.
Truong was quickly taken into custody by local police. Detective Sergeant Margaret Schulz
“He was (caught) straight away, because of the location, the neighbours were onto him straight away and they then rang the CFA,” Schulz told Daily Mail Australia.
“It was a very small fire and it’s certainly not linked to what’s going on in relation to all the other fires. All our fires have been started by lightening strikes.”
After being discovered by locals, Truong attempted to flee the scene, though he was quickly stopped and apprehended until police arrived.
Truong, who has no permanent address, is believed to have been living in his vehicle, with there currently being no motive for the fires or why he was in Victoria in the first place.
Truong is only a suspect in one fire, according to Detective Schulz. “There is no information at this point that he has been responsible for anything else. Obviously he’s got some issues,” she said.
Police say Truong has not co-operated with their investigation, even complaining to court officials that locals had “banged on his windows” upon his arrest.
Despite being hit with countless death threats both in the courthouse and online, Detective Schulz believes those who arrested Truong were “quite restrained.”
“I was actually thinking he’s lucky nothing more had happened,’ she said. ‘As to what his plan was or why he was doing it, Lord only knows.”
In 2019, 12 people in Victoria were charged with causing bushfires.