Firefighters work to extinguish a blaze in the Blue
Mountains near Sydney. REUTERS/David Gray
Among countless stories of heroism and generosity,
instances of pure "bastardry" have emerged during the NSW
And it didn't take long for the uncivil behaviour to start.
As 14 fires burned out of control on Monday, unconfirmed
reports of looting hit social media, prompting Premier Barry
O'Farrell to announce he was "appalled" by the thieving
When a handful of looting cases in the Blue Mountains were
confirmed, NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione didn't
hide his disdain either.
"It's lower than the snake's belly," he told Triple M radio.
Then, the looting began online.
Concerned that fire-affected high school graduates wouldn't
have anything to wear to their formal, UTS student Maddi
Ventura started up the Fiery Formal Dress Exchange.
The page attracted thousands of members but, by Wednesday,
the online community suspected there was a scammer in their
It was found one woman had used the site to contact some 50
others asking for frocks - in fact, for several dresses in
different sizes that she claimed were for her wedding.
Less elaborate but just as unscrupulous, two teens, aged 13
and 15, were charged on Tuesday with stealing a charity
collection box from a cafe in the fire-ravaged suburb of
In another kick in the guts for fire victims on Wednesday, Mr
O'Farrell put out a warning about shonky landlords.
He said the department of fair trading was investigating one
Blue Mountains property-owner accused of ratcheting up rent
ahead of an anticipated increase in people seeking temporary
The premier called any landlord who attempted to take
advantage of desperate residents a "heartless grub" and said
such behaviour was "unconscionable".
"This sort of bastardry, trying to price gouge off the back
of a natural disaster, is unacceptable," he said.
Finally, on Thursday as the worst of the crisis appeared to
dwindle, two more examples of appalling behaviour came to
First, the Environmental Protection Authority revealed it had
received more than 1100 reports of lit cigarette butts thrown
Then, police announced they'd charged a 23-year-old man and
15-year-old girl accused of lying to Blue Mountains residents
about the threat of fire, in an attempt to get them to leave
their homes unattended.