Ballarat man lit fire on total fire ban day

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A BALLARAT man told police he had lit a fire at 3pm on a summer day of total fire ban for warmth and light, a court has heard.

Nicholas Lee, 25, forced a CFA response about 10.15pm on January 28 after it was called to attend a campfire which had been lit near Cabbage Tree Road, Creswick. 

Lee pleaded guilty in Ballarat Magistrates Court on Wednesday to lighting a fire in open air during a day of total fire ban. 

Police prosecutor Senior Constable Nathan Watt said Lee had been in the area about 3pm and later told police he had lit the fire for warmth and light. 

Lee was arrested early Wednesday morning over a series of warrants after failing to appear on bail five times in recent months. 

The court also heard Lee had breached a corrections order when he failed to complete 25 hours of unpaid community work and pay a more than $1700 fine. 

Hamish Locke, for Lee, said his client appeared to have “an inability to comply with authority”, adding his criminal history was made up of mostly driving offences. 

Mr Locke said he was concerned Lee might have unresolved depression issues, telling the magistrate Lee had been vague and unable to provide insight into his offending. 

He asked the court to consider fining Lee. 

Agreeing with the sentencing submission and fining Lee $1500, magistrate Peter Mithen warned of the dangers of lighting fires on days of total fire ban. 

“You know why total fire ban days are specified,” Mr Mithen told Lee.

“For obvious reasons, lighting a fire is a dangerous thing to do.”

Lee was also ordered to pay his original fine. 

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