Australian fire death toll reaches 200 as survivors blame ‘green’ policies

Australian fire death toll reaches 200 as survivors blame ‘green’ policies

17 February 2009

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Australia — Tuesday the death toll from the Australian brush fires reached a rather sad milestone of 200.  Victoria police also somberly announced that they expect that toll to continue to climb and that some victims may never be recovered due to the extreme heat of the fires reducing them to ash. 

As we reported previously, police suspect at least some of the deadly blazes were set intentionally.  They have arrested one man, Brendan Sokaluk, with setting at least one of them.  He faces charges of arson causing death and lighting a wildfire.  If convicted, he could be imprisoned for 25 years on the first charge and 15 years on the second. 

Are ‘green’ policies to blame?

Last week in Arthurs Creek, north of Melbourne, angry residents blamed the ‘green’ policies of the area council which prevented them from properly controlling vegetation surrounding their properties.  In a debate similar to what we have seen played out here in Colorado, deep undergrowth and a lack of proper forest management can cause wildfires to burn hotter and faster than what they would otherwise. 

Warwick Spooner, a man who lost his mother and brother in one of the blazes, said, “We’ve lost two people in my family because you [expletive] won’t cut trees down.  We wanted trees cut down on the side of the road … and you can’t even cut the grass for God’s sake.”

An editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald, detailed how efforts to control overgrowth have been thwarted.  The strongly worded editorial said, “So many people need not have died so horribly. The warnings have been there for a decade. If politicians are intent on whipping up a lynch mob to divert attention from their own culpability, it is not arsonists who should be hanging from lamp-posts but greenies.”

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