UPDATE: Viewing decks destroyed in alleged act of arson
UPDATE: THE suspiciously lit fire that threatened the village of Ebor has also damaged the iconic viewing decks overlooking the Ebor falls.
Police allege Ebor man, Gavin James Gardiner, deliberately lit the fire, during a total fire ban on Friday, all to protect his cannabis crop from nearby fires.
Gardiner appeared in court today.
Ironically, firefighters also had to save the accused's home from fire, which ended up burning out 2,000-ha of land, police said.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service said the popular Ebor Falls would be closed due to the damage to the viewing decks.
"The 'Guyra Road, Ebor' fire has damaged visitor infrastructure, including the main lookouts, at the popular Ebor Falls in Guy Fawkes River National Park," a NPWS spokesperson said.
"The Ebor Falls visitor area will be closed until repairs are undertaken, which is expected to take some time".
MONDAY: Gavin James Gardiner, the man who allegedly began the 2000ha fire at Ebor to save his cannabis crop, faces a maximum penalty of 21 years in jail for deliberately lighting the blaze.
Locals were forced to evacuate their homes on Friday as Rural Fire Service crews and helicopters brought the flames under control just metres from the Ebor Motel Hotel.
Police will today allege Gardiner deliberately lit the fire in a backburning effort to stop his cannabis crop from going up in flames.
The fire was ignited in the Guyra Rd area, 10km west of the village, and was allegedly lit under a severe fire danger and a statewide total fire ban.
Gardiner was arrested inside the village's hotel on Friday around 2pm.
He was bail refused to appear in Armidale Local Court today.
FRIDAY: A man has been arrested after allegedly lighting a fire which currently threatens a town near Dorrigo.
About 10.30pm on Thursday, emergency services responded to reports of a fire threatening the township of Ebor, about a 35 minute drive from Dorrigo.
Officers attached to New England Police District attended the scene and commenced an investigation.
Following inquiries, police arrested a 51-year-old Ebor man just after 2pm on Friday.
The man was taken to Armidale Police Station where he was charged with intentionally cause fire and be reckless to its spread.
Police will allege in court the man lit the fire as an attempt to back burn for the protection of a cannabis crop and perceived benefit from recovery work after the fire and made no attempt to control the blaze.
He was refused bail to appear at Armidale Local Court tomorrow.
NSW Police are said to be wary of the whereabouts of known convicted firebugs during catastrophic bushfire periods.
Anyone with information about this incident is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report crime via NSW Police social media pages.