Damage from Australia's worst 'mega-blaze' that raged for three months, burning 512,000 hectares and countless homes could have been avoided - the truth behind the deadly Gospers Mountain fire
Damage from the deadly Gospers Mountain fire last summer in NSW could have been avoided, as details about a planned backburn in Mount Wilson 15 kilometres away have emerged.
The treacherous Gospers Mountain fire started on October 26 after a lightning strike and raged for three months, burnt over 512,000 hectares and damaged countless homes, with the land and its residents still recovering a year later.
But it was the Mount Wilson backburn lit bythe NSW Rural Fire Service on December 14 last year - which ended up burning for 53 days and destroying 63,700 hectares - that should never have happened.
The controversial planned backburn, which is considered part of the Gospers Mountain fire, went against the advice of veteran Mount Wilson RFS captain Beth Raines, who ended up losing her house in the blaze, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
'To do it on that day and in those conditions was ludicrous,' Bill Shields, who captained the nearby Bilpin Royal Fire Service for 30 years, said.
比尔·希尔兹(Bill Shields)在附近的比尔平皇家消防局(Bilpin Royal Fire Service)担任队长长达30年之久，他说，在那一天，在那样的条件下这么做是荒谬的。
'The more fire you introduce under those conditions, the more likely you are to have an escape.'
The consequences of the backburn almost 12 months on remain for all to see.
It razed orchards in Bilpin, part of the Mount Tomah Botanic Garden, ancient rainforests and the Blue Gum Forest.
It also licked bushland in Mount Wilson, Mount Irvine, Mount Tomah, Bilpin, Berambing, Kurrajong Heights, Blackheath, Mount Victoria and Bell, and damaged 20 houses.
Plenty continue to question why the Mt Wilson backburn was done in daylight hours and whether the RFS had a plan to contain the fire if the situation escalated.
Increasing the frustration is the RFS declining to release its review of the backburn or its advice at the time to theNSW Bushfire Inquiry.
Ian Brown, anIndependent Bushfire Group member who worked in national parks management for 20 years, said someone needs to be held accountable.
'We've all made mistakes in fires, but there's got to be some sort of acknowledgement that these things happened so they can be improved. It's time for truth and healing,' he said.
'In the end, the backburn was a total failure. It might have been an appropriate strategy under the right circumstances, but there was no imminent threat to justify it.'
A spokesman for the NSW Rural Fire Service said the southern containment strategy of the Gospers Mountain fire followed 'careful planning' with input from local brigades and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.
'The NSW RFS is committed to thoroughly investigating incidents such as this and ensuring that it incorporates the learnings from those scenarios into its practices and procedures,' the spokesman said.