Australia: Police Arrest Woman Accused of Setting Fire to Quarantine Hotel

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Police in Queensland, Australia, charged a woman with arson on Sunday after she allegedly set fire to a hotel room in which she was quarantined according to state coronavirus protocol, Australia’s Seven News reported Monday.

An unidentified woman, 31, allegedly started a fire under a bed in her room at the Pacific Hotel on the morning of November 28 in the city of Cairns. The woman had checked into the room on November 26 along with her two children. The woman’s children were inside of the hotel room along with their mother when she started the blaze, according to the Queensland Police Service.

The fire “destroyed the room and damaged two floors” according to Seven News. The Pacific Hotel’s operators were forced to conduct an emergency evacuation of the building in response to the blaze. All 163 guests staying at the facility at the time plus the building’s staff successfully evacuated and no injuries were reported, Queensland Police Acting Chief superintendent Chris Hodgman said on November 28.

“We did have some issues with that female occupant that we were managing,” Hodgman said of the alleged arsonist on Sunday, though he did not provide further details.

Hodgman added that the Pacific Hotel’s evacuees “were initially held at another location but have since been relocated.”

“Earlier, Queensland acting Chief Health Officer Peter Aitken said they were examining options about where to send the quarantine guests,” the Australian Broadcasting Corporation noted on November 27.

Aitken said the possibilities included moving the guests to another state-run quarantine hotel in Cairns “or transferring them to Brisbane.”

Brisbane is the capital of Australia’s Queensland state and is located roughly 1,045 miles south of Cairns.

Queensland health officials have taken over the Pacific Hotel in recent weeks for use as a coronavirus quarantine facility.

“Anyone who arrives in Queensland from another state or overseas must quarantine for 14 days under the state’s pandemic borer restrictions,” the New York Times reported on Monday.

“Those who have a house that fits government criteria around ventilation may undergo home quarantine, but those who do not must quarantine in a designated hotel and foot the bill themselves,” according to the newspaper.

The 31-year-old woman who allegedly started a fire at the quarantine hotel in Cairns on Sunday had recently arrived in Queensland from the southern Australian state of Victoria, according to Seven News. The Cairns Magistrates Court heard the initial proceedings of the woman’s case on November 29 before adjourning until November 30.

In addition to one count of arson, the individual has additionally been charged with one count of “willful damage.”

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