Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

'New York Post' slammed for publishing ISIS execution images

Read more

DEBATE

Back to Square One?

Read more

DEBATE

Israel-Gaza: Back to Square One?

Read more

DEBATE

Israel-Gaza conflict: 72-hour ceasefire deal sets stage for Cairo talks

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users divided over Darren Wilson

Read more

FOCUS

Spain's El Hierro to become world's first self-powered island

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

A bellwether for what not to do

Read more

ENCORE!

Luc Besson back in action with Scarlett Johansson in 'Lucy'

Read more

FOCUS

Israel's minorities and military service

Read more

  • US forces tried to rescue slain reporter from IS captors

    Read more

  • Thailand coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha voted prime minister

    Read more

  • Interactive: Relive the Liberation of Paris in WWII

    Read more

  • US attorney general visits Missouri town after fatal shooting

    Read more

  • French village rallies behind besieged elderly British couple

    Read more

  • Brazil’s Silva launches bid after Campos plane crash death

    Read more

  • Netanyahu compares Hamas to IS, Gaza offensive to continue

    Read more

  • Brutal IS beheading video sparks social media pushback

    Read more

  • France’s ex-PM Juppé sets up presidential clash with Sarkozy

    Read more

  • France’s Hollande says global security ‘worst since 2001’

    Read more

  • France urges Iran, others in region, to join fight against IS

    Read more

  • A new view on Normandy landings, 70 years on

    Read more

  • Dozens killed as landslides strike Japan’s Hiroshima

    Read more

  • Suspected Ebola cases in Austria, new drug raises hopes

    Read more

  • WWII anniversary highlights best - and worst - of Paris police

    Read more

Asia-pacific

Australian military training blamed for sparking wildfire

© AFP

Video by Thomas WATERHOUSE

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2013-10-24

One of the largest wildfires to rage across New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, this past week was sparked by a military training exercise near the city of Lithgow, west of Sydney, investigators have revealed.

Fire officials defended Australia’s defense department on Thursday after investigators revealed a military training exercise ignited the largest of the wildfires that have torn across the nation’s most populous state over the past week.

The Rural Fire Service said Wednesday that one of the more than 100 fires that have burned since last week began at a Defense Department training area as a result of “live ordnance exercises.”

The fire it sparked near the city of Lithgow, west of Sydney, has burned 47,000 hectares (180 square miles) and destroyed several houses, but no injuries or deaths were reported from the blaze.

In a statement, Acting Defense Minister George Brandis said the military was cooperating with investigators.

Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said the defense department’s actions were obviously an accident.

“It wasn’t deliberate; it was a side effect of a routine activity, it would appear, and clearly there was no intention to see fire start up and run as a result of that activity,” Fitzsimmons said. “There is no conspiracy here.”

Meanwhile, officials said a fixed-wing aircraft helping fight a fire near Ulladulla, south of Sydney, crashed Thursday morning. The fire service said rescue crews were trying to reach the remote crash site.

Fire service Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers said there was no information about the condition of the pilot, who police said was the only person on board.

“Firefighting is an inherently dangerous task, whether you’re on the ground or flying through the air,” he said. “You’ve got something that can’t be controlled, limited visibility, multiple aircraft working in the area. There’s always danger.”

The fires over the past week have killed one man and destroyed more than 200 homes in New South Wales state. Sixty-five fires were burning Thursday, with 24 out of control, though all emergency warnings had been lifted.

Investigators are still looking into the causes of the other fires. Some were started by power lines brought down in strong winds, the fire service said. A few appear to have been deliberately lit, and police have arrested several children in connection with those.

The major wildfire threat had passed Thursday, as cooler temperatures and calm winds prevailed and hundreds of residents returned to homes they had evacuated earlier.

(AP)

Date created : 2013-10-24

  • AUSTRALIA

    Australian fire crisis eases, blazes still threaten towns

    Read more

  • AUSTRALIA

    Australia merges blazes to prevent ‘mega-fire’

    Read more

  • AUSTRALIA

    Australian officials warn of 'mega-fire'

    Read more

COMMENT(S)