‘Pyromaniacs at work for Government’


‘Pyromaniacs at work for Government’

04 June 2010

published by www.ntnews.com.au

Australia — THERE are “pyromaniacs” working for the NT Government, a conservation leader said yesterday.

Environment Centre co-ordinator Stuart Blanch said some of the people working for Bushfires NT and Parks and Wildlife enjoyed lighting “controlled” fires a little too much.

“Some like burning at every time of the year,” he said. “There are still pyromaniacs in the Government, although fewer than in the past.”

Mr Blanch was speaking after smoke from a deliberately lit grassfire caused a string of pile-ups on the Stuart Highway on Wednesday.

Motorists said the smoke was so thick that visibility was reduced to a few metres.

Mr Blanch said the Environment Centre did not oppose burning off.

But he said the shortage of staff and vehicles meant that some of the fires were lit as late as August.

Scientists say that burnoffs should be held early in the dry season to avoid the build-up of fuel loads.

Mr Blanch said the late burnoffs often led to “massive” wildfires towards the end of the year.

Bushfires NT head Steve Sutton dismissed the pyromaniac claim as “emotional”.

He said controlled burning was necessary to maintain biodiversity and prevent late season wildfires.

Mr Sutton said there were flashing lights and warning signs on the Stuart Highway on Wednesday, but motorists failed to slow down.

“Some of those injured were known to volunteers conducting the burnoff,” he said.

“So it is not a simple matter of saying the drivers are stupid.”

A CSIRO study concluded in 2007 that the burning was too intense.

It said that savannah woodland should be fired only every three to five years.

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