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A bushfire is burning out of control on the NSW Northern Tablelands after a 51-year-old man allegedly started it while trying to backburn around his weed crop.

The man has been charged for lighting the fire on Thursday at Ebor, 80km north-east of Armidale in northern New South Wales. He was arrested on Friday afternoon, and was refused bail after appearing in Armidale Local Court on charges of intentionally causing a fire. He’ll be back in court on Monday.

The fire itself has already burnt through more than 3,700 hectares, and was upgraded to a watch and act level on Saturday arvo. That’s a lot of damage to save a bit of weed.

It’s a shocking situation considering the current state of the fires in NSW and Queensland, and New South Wales Rural Fire Service Inspector Ben Shepherd told the ABC he hoped the guy would be subject to the full extent of the law.

“We know that there’s been an increase of sentencing and non-parole periods, so hopefully that gentleman will receive the harshest of penalties, because we know that fires in this landscape at the moment are unfortunately destroying lives and destroying homes.”

More than 1.5 million hectares has burned this fire season already, with 59 fires currently burning in NSW and 60 in Queensland. Four people have died, and more than 300 homes have been lost.

Source: ABC
Image: Getty Images / Brett Hemmings