Gavin James Gardiner behind bars, charged with intentionally lighting Guyra Road fire near Ebor


Gavin James Gardiner, the 51-year-old Ebor resident accused of deliberately torching bushland last week to protect a hidden cannabis crop, will remain behind bars until at least next month, after fronting court again.

Gavin James Gardiner appeared via video link in Armidale Local Court on Monday morning, but made no application for bail. It was formally refused by magistrate Michael Holmes.

Gardiner did not enter pleas to charges of 'intentionally causing fire and being reckless as to its spread' nor for 'dishonestly for gain damaging property by fire'.

Mr Holmes adjourned the case to early December, where it will be referred to the DPP to prosecute, ordering Gardiner be remanded in custody until then.

Australian Community Media has been told firefighters worked to save Gardiner's house from the fire, which had engulfed more than 10,000 hectares by Sunday afternoon and continued to spread.

As firefighters battled the blaze on Friday, locals were forced to evacuate their homes, or seek shelter as the fire bore down on the dry village.

The badly damaged Ebor Falls lookout shows how close it came to the village and the BlazeAid camp on the other side of the road.

Ebor Falls lookout. Photo by Kyle Donoghue

Ebor Falls lookout. Photo by Kyle Donoghue

As of Sunday night, the fire had eased to 'Advice' level, reducing the immediate threat to properties.

Residents are outraged at claims the fire - which was sparked in the Guyra Road area, about 10km west of the village on Thursday - was deliberately lit to stop a cannabis crop going up in flames; but also during a total fire ban, and one of the worst droughts on record.

On Friday Gardiner was arrested by Armidale detectives at an Ebor hotel at about 2pm. He was refused bail by the registrar in an out-of-sessions bail hearing in Armidale Local Court on Saturday morning.

He was ordered to remain in custody until Monday where he will reappear in Armidale court in front of magistrate Michael Holmes.

Gardiner faces a maximum penalty of 21 years' imprisonment if found guilty of intentionally causing a fire and being reckless to its spread. He is yet to enter a plea.

On Sunday afternoon, the Guyra Road, Ebor fire forced the closure of the Waterfall Way, with a Watch-and-Act fire warning in place.

Strong winds fanned flames and sparked more activity on the fireground, which saw the blaze burning towards the Ebor village, in an easterly direction towards Waterfall Way.

The winds - which played havoc with control efforts - were then expected to see the fire shift towards the Wongwibinda area.

Residents were being warned to monitor conditions and remain vigilant as firefighters tried to control the blaze.

As a result of the massive fire, Ebor Public School was closed on Monday because of safety concerns.

Battling the blaze: Fire crews work to protect homes in Ebor on Friday afternoon. Photo: NSW RFS

Battling the blaze: Fire crews work to protect homes in Ebor on Friday afternoon. Photo: NSW RFS