Opposition demands bushfire probe

Opposition demands bushfire probe

13 May 2013

published by www.abc.net.au

Australia — The South Australian Opposition wants a parliamentary inquiry into last week’s Adelaide hills bushfire.

The Country Fire Service (CFS) has been defending its strategy used to fight the blaze, which destroyed a house, two sheds and scorched about 670 hectares around Cherryville and Basket Range.

Some residents questioned why aerial bombers were not called in sooner.

Opposition Leader Steven Marshall denied his call for a parliamentary investigation was a kneejerk reaction.

“Let’s establish the facts. It’s important now that the bushfire is under control that we take this time to actually review what happened, make certain you know that we’ve done everything in accordance with best practice,” he said.

“If there are any opportunities for improvement let’s hear them, let’s get them in place. Let’s make sure we don’t have that situation again.”

The acting deputy chief of the CFS, Rob Sandford, said on ABC Radio it was an urban myth to think attacking bushfires from the air was always the best approach.

“There’s an unban myth about aircraft, that aircraft are the silver bullet and they put fires out,” he said.

“Aircraft certainly assist but it’s the firefighters on the ground are the ones that put out fires.”

Mr Sandford said the firefighting aircraft and their pilots had no longer been under contract or on standby because the official bushfire season had ended.

“The contractors that we use, they use their aircraft for other activities so to recall the aircraft takes a period of time to get them activated and then deployed,” he said.

CFS chief officer Greg Nettleton also backed that view, saying a check of the bushfire from the air last Thursday confirmed the fire bombers would not have been any use in the firefighting effort at that time.

“I do not believe it was a mistake,” he told reporters.

Premier Jay Weatherill said he did not believe an inquiry was the best course of action.

“I think the idea of just racing off to a parliamentary committee does start pointing the finger,” he said.

“I mean we don’t want a bunch of politicians sitting around actually running the ruler over this. I think we let the experts carry out their work.”

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