Australian woman set fire to COVID-19 quarantine hotel, police say


An Australian woman is facing arson charges after she allegedly set fire to the COVID-19 quarantine hotel where she was staying with her two children, police said. 

The woman lit a fire underneath her bed at the Pacific Hotel Cairns in the northern city of Cairns early Sunday, according to police. 

Cairns City

Cairns City
(Queensland Police)

The fire scorched much of the 11th floor. More than 100 people had to be evacuated. None sustained serious injuries, police said. 

Acting Chief Superintendent Chris Hodgman said the woman has been arrested and police are caring for her children, Reuters reported. 

Smoke billows over the Pacific Hotel, a COVID-19 quarantine venue, in Cairns, Australia November 28, 2021 in this picture obtained from social media.

Smoke billows over the Pacific Hotel, a COVID-19 quarantine venue, in Cairns, Australia November 28, 2021 in this picture obtained from social media.
(Sarah Orton/via REUTERS)

Police said the woman has been charged with one count of arson and wilful damage. Her identity was not released. 

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Hodgman said that woman had been in quarantine for a couple of days and that there had been prior issues with her. 

The woman is scheduled to appear in Cairns Magistrates Court on Monday. 

Fire is being extinguished at the Pacific Hotel, a COVID-19 quarantine venue, in Cairns, Australia November 28, 2021 in this picture obtained from social media.

Fire is being extinguished at the Pacific Hotel, a COVID-19 quarantine venue, in Cairns, Australia November 28, 2021 in this picture obtained from social media.
(Sarah Orton/via REUTERS)

The incident came amid growing pushback from Australians against their government for the country’s draconian COVID-19 policies. 

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The rise of the omicron variant of the coronavirus has also put the world on edge. The variant was first identified last week by researchers in South Africa, yet much about it still remains unknown like whether it is more contagious or more likely to evade the protection of vaccines. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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