A man accused of starting a devastating bushfire that destroyed 86 homes in Perth has had his criminal charges dropped days before he was due to face trial.
Prosecutors alleged Daniel Gunter Preuss, 42, started the massive blaze in February 2021 by using an angle grinder to remove a padlock from a sea container on his Wooroloo property during a total fire ban that prohibited the use of power tools.
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The fire burnt through almost 11,000 hectares of bushland in Perth’s hills and northeastern suburbs, destroying homes, livestock, sheds and machinery.
Five months after the blaze, Preuss was charged with failing to take due care while in charge of an ignition source and breaching a total fire ban, but was not accused of deliberately starting it.
Prosecutors told the District Court on Thursday the charges were being discontinued.
Charges have been dropped against a man accused of starting a bushfire that destroyed 86 homes. Credit: 7NEWS
It’s understood they were not confident they would be able to secure a conviction.
Preuss, who had previously pleaded not guilty, was scheduled to stand trial on Tuesday for seven days.
It took firefighters five days to contain the fire, which coincided with a COVID-19 lockdown in Perth and surrounding regions.
A further 195 homes were under threat at one stage but were saved by fire crews.
The cost of joint state government and commonwealth relief efforts has been put at more than $18 million.