10 Feb 2011

Police officer accused over Perth bushfire

9:38 pm on 10 February 2011

A police officer in Perth has been charged in connection with a bushfire that destroyed 72 homes in the city's hills.

Robert James Stevens has been charged with carrying out an activity in the open air that causes or is likely to cause a fire.

Sparks from an angle grinder he was using during a total fire ban are thought to have started the blaze, the ABC reports.

Mr Stevens was off duty at the time and is now on leave.

A police spokesperson says Mr Steven has been left shattered by the devastation the fire caused.

It is expected to cost tens of millions of dollars to repair the damage.

Mr Stevens is due to appear in court in March.

Meanwhile, fire investigators have confirmed that half the homes destroyed by fire burnt down because of their air-conditioning units.

They say the dry filters act as a wick for properties - embers get in and the fire burns quicky though roofs.