“They range from very minor behaviour right up to intentional arsonist behaviour – those that are listed as accidental right through to intentional,” State Crime Commander, Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith, said on Friday.
He would not say what number of those were a result of arson or the deliberate lighting of fires.
Another 745 were of an undetermined cause, while 156 were caused naturally, police believe.
“Strike Force Tronto is about profiling. It’s about zeroing in on serial arsonist behaviours that occurs during the bushfire period,” he said.
“That sets the framework for the next fire season so that we do zero in on and target those individuals who we believe may be involved in arsonist behaviour.
“This summer we have interacted with 15 individuals that will face court or legal action relative to behaviour around the bushfire period,” he said.
New figures provided by police on Friday showed that legal action has been taken against 55 people for fires that were allegedly deliberately lit since August 1.
That figure includes people dealt with under mental health provisions, those given cautions and those charged with criminal offences.
Legal action has also been taken against 126 people for allegedly failing to comply with a total fire ban, against 41 for throwing out a lit cigarette and against 70 juveniles for bushfire-related offences.
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said the extraordinary police response was fitting for the unprecedented fire season.
“Strike Force Tronto was set up for the 2001 bushfires that destroyed a lot of property and we lost lives. It was nothing like the bushfires that we’ve seen in 2019 and 2020.
“The damage, the destruction is like nothing we’ve ever seen before. So the investigative response has to be something we have never seen before,” he said.
Sally Rawsthorne is a Crime Reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.