Colonel Kilgore meets Mr Bean

ADF Kit Kat crew, not climate change, torched national park last summer

The crew of an Australian Army helicopter that sparked a massive bushfire in Namadgi National Park did not pass on crucial details about the fire’s location to authorities for 45 minutes, costing emergency services precious time as they raced to extinguish the fire before it ravaged the ACT’s south.

The fire was started by the helicopter’s landing light in late January, as the Army crew set down for a break in the remote Orroral Valley.

When the blaze threatened to consume the aircraft, the crew took to the skies — only to watch as their helicopter downdraught fanned the flames into what would become a formidable firestorm…

But internal Defence reports on the incident, released to the ABC under Freedom of Information laws, show the helicopter’s pilot did not radio the coordinates in the time it took to return to Fairbairn air base at Canberra Airport.

In the coming hours and days, the Orroral Valley fire grew into an inferno that ripped through the ACT national park — and then across the border in NSW, where it destroyed homes…

A Defence response to questions from the ABC said the crew’s primary concern was for their own safety.

 
The primary concern was not civilian lives and property but themselves. Well, that’s the old Keith Payne spirit! Shouldn’t Chief of Army Lieutenant General Richard Burr resign over this fiasco? Strippety-strip!

This entry was posted in Australian Story. Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to Colonel Kilgore meets Mr Bean

  1. rickw

    What on earth is wrong with these people?

  2. Ubique

    If fuel loads are allowed to build up, as routinely happens nowadays in National Parks and State Forests, then major bushfires or firestorms will ensue, as surely as night follows day. In hot, dry and windy conditions a source of ignition will inevitably set the firestorm off, be it lightning, an arsonist, misadventure or a defence force helicopter.

    About 50 Royal Commissions and Committees of Inquiry have proven this to be the case in the last sixty years, but it’s still ignored. The media much prefers to claim the bushfires and loss of life are caused by climate change rather than the failure of the responsible authorities to reduce fuel loads.

  3. billie

    pretty sure Klimbmatt Jhange was responsibe for all the fires last year when all of Australia was on fire at the same time in 2019 ..

    when questions were asked about anyone being responsible for any of the fires, it was laughed at

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-01-11/australias-fires-reveal-arson-not-a-major-cause/11855022

    as usual, it’s dissappointing to see the meedia have it both ways, of course the abc seem to dislike the defence forces intensely and make exceptions for balaming them, it’s asif they are catholics!

  4. Stanley

    Colonel Klink’s helicopter landing lights need to be upgraded. It’s not good enough to equip the choppers with Waxworks Barbeque Bamboo Torches even if it gives the “resort feel” ambience. Pass the RAF hip flask, Prince Andrew!

  5. lotocoti

    Long gone are the days when you could park at the Straddie Pub for a couple of refreshing bevvies if the ship was late for recovery.

  6. Spurgeon Monkfish III

    I hope they were blasting some Wagner while this regrettable incident unfolded.

    “Scares the hell out of the pubes!”

  7. Fred

    Diversity improves capability.

    What’s the bet the pilots weren’t diverse enough?

  8. Roger

    What Ubique said.

    The flight crew aren’t the real culprits here, although they were a bit tardy I doubt it would have made much difference given the fuel load the authorities allowed to develop.

  9. cuckoo

    Did that chopper have ejector seats?

  10. Texas Jack

    Lower case billie is spot on – lefties apparently have incontrovertible scientific proof that every single fire in every nook and brook of the driest continent on the planet was caused by that villain Klimbmatt Jhange… No ifs, no buts, it had nothing at all to do with trillions of tons of highly flammable eucalyptus spoil sitting on forest floors.

  11. Fair Shake

    Sh!t happens. It’s how we respond to it and get it fixed is the standard we should assess by.
    And a stitch in time saves nine. The sooner the action to fix the better. Dingbats.

  12. PoliticoNT

    For sheer arse-crack stupidity track down MINDEF’s ‘keynote address’ for the launch of her new Defence Transformation Strategy.

    As a senior auditing friend at ANAO commented today over lunch, ‘MINDEF’s launch speech is possible the target richest source I’ve ever seen in my life.’

    (Sinc/Rafe – perhaps a special post and accompanying opinion. Perhaps titled, ‘SAS thrown on the trash heap while Minister indulges reform obsessions.’ Might be worth tracking down her CDSS graduating thesis which is similarly idiotic.)

  13. Bruce

    Landing light?

    What were they using, a Tiki Torch?

    Most landing lights seem to be rated at around 100Watts (unless they are the gucci LED type in which case they run a bit cooler than the older Quartz Halogen type.

    If the chopper was operating from a field of long and dry grass, a 100W QI globe in direct contact with the grass MAY, just MAY cause a problem.

    Not calling it in seems to be more of a training / attitude issue. And hovering over the nascent fire whilst being held up bu a gigantic FAN……not much help, either. –

    However, all of this is a deliberate distraction from the simple fact that the obscenely well-paid “wardens of the woods” DELIBERATELY ignored DECADES of warnings and actual EXAMPLES of fuel accumulation in the bushland.

    Our indigenous cousins cheefully, but selectively set fire to teh place with monotonouds regularity. If the “weekender wurli” got torched as a result, no biggie.

    Then there is the brutally simple botanical fact that many of the dominant species in the dry sclerophyll forests are “fire-climax” types. No racing ground fire, no germination of the very tough seed pods.

    No fires for ten or more years? HUGE accumulation of fuel; bark, leaves, low shrubs. WHEN, not if, this goes up, you lose the LOT. The extra-hot under-storey fire kills the mature trees, kills off any seed pods on the ground and bakes the soil to sterile dust to a depth of 600mm or more.

    Who cares? Obviously not those generously remunerated to actually do so.

  14. yarpos

    Of course it was climate change, in pre onindustrial times you could have landed a helicopter there without starting a fire……oh wait. Was the crew indigenous? maybe it was a traditional burn using the helicopter method made famous in storylines?

  15. miltonf

    Malicious incompetence is the Canbra way.

  16. sfw

    I can’t see a landing light(whatever that may be) starting a fire unless it didn’t have any form of protective lens over it, I reckon that the crew have done something to start the fire (by accident) and the landing light story is the most convenient excuse they could find, not saying it’s impossible but rather improbable.

  17. H B Bear

    Defence are making VicPlod look pretty good.

  18. Scernus

    The real issue is that the hot landing light problem with the MRH90 was a known issue long before they started this fire.

    That’s what you get when you take a redesigned Naval helicopter (NH90) and try and use it as a battlefield helicopter.

  19. Herodotus

    Ubique at 2.53pm – exactly.
    When will the media, and particularly the ABC, who are supposed to be across all Australian districts and conditions tell the truth about unmanaged National Parks the big fuel loads that build without management in order to win inner city Green votes?

  20. rickw

    That’s what you get when you take a redesigned Naval helicopter (NH90) and try and use it as a battlefield helicopter.

    Trips to which part of the world was the basis of this clusterfuck?

  21. Herodotus

    And Bruce at 5.24pm, ++

  22. Squirrel

    Would it be too much to ask that they park that incendiary chopper on Parliament House……?

  23. BrettW

    Excuse my ignorance but I don’t get the reference to Keith Payne in thread starter.

  24. Cyclist of doom

    BrettW, Keith Payne won the Victoria Cross in Vietnam, for acts of valour conducted over an extended period of time

  25. Rex Anger

    However, all of this is a deliberate distraction from the simple fact that the obscenely well-paid “wardens of the woods” DELIBERATELY ignored DECADES of warnings and actual EXAMPLES of fuel accumulation in the bushland.

    Fasconatig, isn’t it…

    In late ’07 or early ’08, I was on an exercise at Majura Range with the Sydney University Regiment. My section of tame targets (Training Support Platoon) was having lunch in the pine plantation (in the SW corner, over the back from RAAF Bairnsdale and Canberra Airport) when we spotted smoke- The Staff Cadets had been through a couple.of hours.earlier, and an incompletely buried and still-smouldering hexamine tablet had started to burn the pine needles. The total ‘fire’ was about 10 square metres and had found an old tree stump by the time we diggers had started splashing half-empty jerry cans of water and burying smouldering needles with our boots.

    Given the outskirts of Canberra had burned a year or two earlier, the radio call to Range Control spouted a spectacular over-response. 5 pumpers and a helicopter were there within about 15 minutes, although after the fire was out. Pretty sure there was no fallout over that…

    Given Canberra’s reaction to a few pine needles and a stump (and it wasn’t military fieries who turned up, but their local RFS equivalents), I find it fascinating how it is somehow all the helicopter crew’s fault and nobody else spotted fire/smoke or was.otherwise paying attention..m

  26. Mick Gold Coast QLD

    From BrettW at 7:50 pm:

    “Excuse my ignorance but I don’t get the reference to Keith Payne in thread starter.”

    Keith Payne VC was the real McCoy, BrettW, brave like Donaldson and Roberts-Smith, modest and genuine.

    I well remember reports of him being awarded the Victoria Cross when I was a teenager, sans hyperbole. He was one of just a few exceptional men from the Training Team who were similarly awarded in Vietnam. He is rising 90 now, he has comported himself with dignity forever, a real gentleman.

    The Defence Ministerette would know of him, only from briefing notes provided by a flunky though. Her defence forces, Morrison’s defence forces, Australia’s defence forces, have no place for the likes of Keith Payne.

    I weep for the country we were.

  27. BrettW

    Am aware of that. On second reading I may have misread CL’s meaning.

    Cyclist of doom
    #3676985, posted on December 1, 2020 at 7:57 pm

  28. Tel

    … an incompletely buried and still-smouldering hexamine tablet had started to burn the pine needles.

    It doesn’t take much. A tossed cigarette in dry leaves or similar will expand out to a meter radius in … I dunno, five minutes.

    After that it’s too big to stomp on and how much water does a typical walker carry? A few liters at most. I’m going with the smoko theory unless anyone has better ideas. Landing light? Yeah right.

  29. jupes

    I find it fascinating how it is somehow all the helicopter crew’s fault and nobody else spotted fire/smoke or was.otherwise paying attention..m

    Seriously Rex? They started it then didn’t report it for 45 min.

    Door Gunner: “shouldn’t we report that fire boss?”

    Pilot: “No need. Someone else we see the smoke and report it for us.”

    Guilty as charged!

  30. jupes

    He is rising 90 now, he has comported himself with dignity forever, a real gentleman.

    Yeah nah Mick. I know / knew a few Vietnam vets from the Team and I have yet to meet one who likes / liked Kieth Payne.

    None of them deny that he deserved his VC but none of them described him as being “modest”. I have also heard similiar stories from soldiers who served after Vietnam who weren’t impressed when Payne visited their mess. The award may have gone to his head for a few years there I suspect.

    That being said, from what I have heard from blokes who have met him this century, he has indeed carried himself with dignity and humility. Time does that I suppose.

  31. old bloke

    The fire was started by the helicopter’s landing light in late January, as the Army crew set down for a break in the remote Orroral Valley.

    Helicopters were used fairly frequently to bring personnel and supplies to the former Orroral Valley Space Tracking Station when the access roads were flooded. Assuming that the helipad still exists, why did they land their helicopter in the scrub?

  32. a reader

    Seems extremely unlikely. Surely a modern military helicopter is using LED landing lights for their low energy use, brightness and weight…

  33. Time to snip that Kilgore quote. It smells like…victory.

  34. What Ubique said @2:53 …

    Lack of fuel reduction since 2003.

Comments are closed.