ARSONISTS will soon come under extra heat with the announcement of a new taskforce to crack down on those who deliberately light fires.
As police declared that yesterday's Golden Point fire was suspicious, the state government announced a new specialist group within Victoria Police that will directly tackle arsonists across Victoria.
The new Bushfire, Arson and Explosives Specialist Group was announced jointly by Premier Ted Baillieu and Police and Emergency Services Minister Peter Ryan as part of Fire Action Week.
The taskforce will include a team of 150 highly trained experts, whose main role will be to eliminate arson.
Ballarat detectives yesterday suspected that the Elsworth Street fire, which burnt out 10 hectares of land, was deliberately lit.
Mr Baillieu said the taskforce would help local police prevent arson and more capably capture and punish culprits.
"Across Victoria, these specially trained officers will strengthen arson prevention operations by providing expertise to local police, and assistance with prevention, intelligence and enforcement," Mr Baillieu said.
"Arson is a horrific crime that can devastate our environment, destroy homes and properties and cause serious injury or the tragic loss of life, and the delivery of highly specialised resources will help in averting arson attacks in the future."
In 2011 alone there were more than 3000 arson-related offences in Victoria.
Mr Ryan said the development of the taskforce was another weapon in the arsenal of police to fight the crime.
"The establishment of this group of Bushfire Arson and Explosives specialists will improve our capability around the prevention and detection of arson offences," Mr Ryan said.
Yesterday also marked the start of Operation Firesetter, an overt arson deterrent run by Victoria Police that is now in its third year.
Any witnesses or anybody with information regarding the Golden Point fire is asked to contact Ballarat Criminal Investigation Unit on
5336 6080 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.