Boy, 12, cautioned by police over Australia wildfire that forced hundreds to flee their homes

Tim Baker
Firefighters battling a bushfire in Peregian Springs on the Sunshine Coast, Australia: Reuters

A 12-year-old boy has been cautioned by police after allegedly starting wildfire that forced hundreds of people had to flee their homes in Australia.

Officers in Queensland said two 14-year-old girls were also being questioned over a separate fire amid a stark warning that "people can die".

Strong winds have fanned some 140 bushfires in northern Queensland and neighbouring New South Wales state this week, with flames ravaging thousands of hectares of land.

The schoolboy was found in a skatepark near Brisbane on the east coast of the country and has been cautioned by Queensland Police.

The two 14-year-old girls are being questioned over a fire near the Gold Coast, just south of Brisbane.

Firefighters battle bushfires in Angourie, northern New South Wales (Reuters)

At least eight of the fires are suspicious, Queensland Police Commissioner Katrina Carroll told reporters.

Commissioner Carroll said: “Some of the fires have involved children playing and obviously the consequences are dire as a result of that and... some of them have been purposeful and malicious.

"People can die. Buildings and residences are being destroyed.

New South Wales Rural Fire Service firefighters are seen fighting fires on Long Gully Road in the northern New South Wales town of Drake (Reuters)

In New South Wales, firefighters were battling about 55 fires and five properties had been confirmed destroyed, the NSW Rural Fire Service said on Monday.

Bushfires have started earlier than normal in the southern hemisphere spring.

Australia's Bureau of Meteorology said winds would intensify throughout the day on Tuesday, but fire threats should abate on Wednesday.