(KXAN) – Two dozen Australians have been accused of deliberately setting fires since November 2019. In total, Australian authorities have taken legal action against more than 180 people for bushfire-related offenses, according to the New South Wales police force.
The charges come after bushfires have killed at least 18 people and nearly 500 million animals — devastating the continent over the past several months.
Since Nov. 8, authorities say they’ve taken legal action against 183 people, ranging from cautions to criminal charges.
24 people have been charged with intentionally setting bushfires. 53 people are accused of failing to comply with a total fire ban. 47 people are accused of allegedly discarding a lighted cigarette or match on land, according to Australian police.
Police said those who intentionally start a bushfire could face up to 21 years in prison.