Calls for inquiry into marathon bushfire

Calls for inquiry into marathon bushfire

24 February 2012

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Australia — There are calls for an independent inquiry into why two runners were caught in a bushfire and left with critical burns while competing in a marathon in Western Australia last year.

Kate Sanderson and Turia Pitt were competing in an ultra-marathon, organised by Racing The Planet, in the Kimberley in September when they were trapped and burnt in a bushfire.

Ms Sanderson suffered horrific burns in the fire and has spent the last six months in hospital in Melbourne as a result of her injuries.

Doctors recently had to amputate half of her left foot.

Ms Sanderson has spoken to ABC1’s 7:30 and described how she thought she was going to die in the fire.

She says it took almost four hours before she was flown to hospital for treatment.

“There was no shade so we were getting sunburnt on the burns,” she said.

“A few times, helicopters came in the gorge and we thought we were going to be rescued and it was just a horrible feeling when they left again.”

Western Australia’s Opposition and Ms Sanderson’s brother Ian are pushing for an inquiry into the event.

Mr Sanderson says he believes the events on the day of the marathon were avoidable.

“They’ve a right to know what happened. Who made what decisions and how that affected the outcome,” he said.

The Western Australian Government sponsored the event but has so far refused to investigate what went wrong.

WA Premier Colin Barnett says he will consider a parliamentary inquiry but has so far ruled out anything else.

Racing The Planet’s founder Mary Gadams denies her company is in anyway responsible for the injuries suffered by the competitors in the Kimberley event.

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