A GROUP of European backpackers will return from the Sydney fireworks celebrations to find their campsite and belongings destroyed.
Police are treating as suspicious the destruction of two tents pitched side by side on the eastern side of the camping area at the Orange Showground, among a group of other tents occupied by seasonal pickers who include international backpackers.
Orange Fire and Rescue responded to a call of a tent on fire in the area at 2.29am yesterday morning.
After extinguishing the fire a second call was received at the Orange station at 3.52am of a second tent on fire.
Once again the brigade extinguished the second blaze, leaving Orange police to investigate both fires.
Yesterday permanent residents of the showground camping area near the Margaret Street entrance told the Central Western Daily the occupants of the tents pitched close to their vans and the amenities area had been quiet during the night.
One of three South Korean backpackers whose tent was pitched alongside the tents that were torched said he believed the occupants of the two tents had left Orange temporarily to travel to Sydney and were intending to return to continue picking cherries after most local orchards had given pickers the day off on New Year’s Day.
Orange police arrested a man at the campsite early yesterday and took him back to Orange Police Station where he was questioned for several hours.
Police say acting on legal advice the man declined to be interviewed and was released without charge pending further police inquiries.
Orange police say the case is still open for investigation and are intending to question other witnesses at the camping area.
The camping area is administered by Orange City Council and is a popular camping spot for seasonal fruit pickers.
Police are appealing for anyone who can assist with information relating to the fires to contact them on 6363 6399.