Bush fire season is upon us and the blame game is in full swing.
Before the area became national park, Mr Layer said, he would get permits to collect firewood from the state forests. Since the national park was declared there had been no permits issued.
“It has just been building up,” he said.
A generation of locals, raised on forest protest, are being forced to confront some tough truths about forest fuel loads and management. Communities that have been on the frontline to stop logging and expand national parks are seeking refuge as fire threatens to consume their homes.
Protesters Falls near Terania Creek, the site of Australia’s first environmental blockade in August 1979, is surrounded by an out-of-control blaze in the Nightcap National Park. Tuntable Creek community, a free-spirited community that grew from Nimbin’s counter-culture movement of the 1970s, was one of the first settlements to be evacuated.
Some of the best analysis I’ve seen on bush fires and the poor policy choices that lead to higher intensity fires has been done by our very own areff.
Here he is in 2013.
Excessive fuel loads feed massive fires? Don’t be silly, say those who count themselves in Nature’s corner! The past week’s infernos, as symptoms of global warming, are punishment for mankind’s sins, and the only cure is taxes, inflated electricity bills, restricted air travel and an international trade in certificates signifying ownership of nothing more tangible than tranches of thin air. In distant Britain, The Guardian’s reliably bizarre George Monbiot even managed to paint volunteer fireman Tony Abbott as an eco-arsonist.
As for reducing fuel levels with controlled, “cool” burns during spring and autumn, the cultists will always fight that tooth and nail, as they did for years in and around Nillumbik. A procession of fire experts visited the district and saw nothing but disaster in the making, but their reports and warnings were rejected by a council whose officers were busy ticketing residents for collecting fallen wood from the verges in front of their properties, amongst other offences against green goodness.
Then on Sunday this week:
When Victoria was ravaged by the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009 a royal commission set out to determine what led to 173 deaths and billions of dollars in property damage. Today more fires are raging, this time in NSW, and at least three people are known to have lost their lives, but there will be no need for an inquiry because the cause has already been established to the satisfaction of the media, various lawmakers and those public officials whose job it is to manage Australia’s pyrophytic flora.
Yes, you guessed it: there is no blame to share because the lost lives and destroyed property are a direct consequence of climatechange. You can read all about this latest symptom of an overheated planet in just about any paper or news site, especially at the ABC.
As NSW burns, an examination of those factors — the obstacles to staging prophylactic burns, the green romanticism that sees homes built amid pyres awaiting only a spark, the stripping of residents’ right to make their homes safe — would seem worth reprising.
If you want a better understanding of the policy failures that result in these horrific fires read Inferno: the Day Victoria Burned.
In the words of Roger Franklin, fire can be “a curious, wonderful thing”. On February 7, 2009, however, there was nothing wonderful about the flames that engulfed Victoria, killing 173 people and reducing several towns to dust. Franklin’s book, Inferno: the Day Victoria Burned, is the first to explore the horrors of the day that will forever be known as Black Saturday. Not only does the author explain what happened that day – individual heroism, unimaginable tragedy, tales of towns all but wiped off the map – but also why it happened.
The author examines the roles of the Victorian government, the CFA and the local councils that were so determined to protect roadside vegetation. He analyses the pros and cons of preventive burning, questions the merits of the state’s controversial stay-or-go policy, and delves into the mind of an arsonist. Through it all, there is a clear message: failure was everywhere on Black Saturday. And with bushfires a constant threat in Australian life, Franklin cites many important lessons that need to be learned if such a disaster is to be avoided in the future.