Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Nigerian air force mistakenly bombs refugee camp killing at least 50 people

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Brexit Means Hard Brexit

Read more

THE DEBATE

Hard Brexit, here we come: UK to leave EU common market (part 1)

Read more

THE DEBATE

Hard Brexit, here we come: The blowback against globalisationt (part 2)

Read more

ENCORE!

Art on the wire and online: Jean-Hubert Martin on curating in cyberspace

Read more

FOCUS

Inside China's answer to Silicon Valley

Read more

ACCESS ASIA

Behind the scenes at China's Harbin snow festival

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

'Donald Trump is a great friend of Israel'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Davos 2017: World Economic Forum wary of post-Brexit future

Read more

Asia-pacific

Australian military training blamed for sparking wildfire

© AFP

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)