An elderly firebug has been jailed for more than seven years today after lighting a series of forest fires south of Nelson.
Colin Geoffrey Hayball, 72, was found guilty after an arson trial at the High Court in Nelson last month.
Hayball, who lives in the Tutaki valley near Murchison, was today jailed for seven years, six months.
Police have praised the Waimea Rural Fire Force and local landowners for their help in bringing a successful prosecution against him.
"This individual's actions put the lives of the firefighters at risk and placed them under enormous pressure," Detective Senior Sergeant Wayne McCoy said.
"These fires also had the potential to impact significantly on both the forestry industry in Nelson and on the wider economy."
Firearms, an ammunition cache and drugs were found in Hayball's possession, Mr McCoy said, which compounded his risk to the community.
"It was entirely appropriate that he served a term of imprisonment."