No police charges or parliamentary inquiry after Cherryville bushfire in Adelaide Hills

No police charges or parliamentary inquiry after Cherryville bushfire in Adelaide Hills

23 May 2013

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Australia — NO charges will be laid following a police investigation into the cause of the Cherryville fire, which destroyed a family home in the Adelaide Hills earlier this month.

The fire, which took over three days to control, started near Cherryville about 2.30pm on Thursday, May 9, as the result of a bonfire on private land.

The police investigation has confirmed the bonfire started a fire which headed southeast, blackening about 600ha of scrub land and threatening several homes at Basket Range.

The Blockers Rd home of Brian and Paris Billing was destroyed in the blaze.

Police Superintendent Rob Williams said this morning an investigation into the fire had determined the owner of the property where the fire began would not be charged.

“No charges will be laid as the person acted in line with the legislation, but due to unforeseen circumstances the fire got away,” he said.

Emergency Services Minister Michael O’Brien said he would not support a parliamentary inquiry into the incident.

“I have full confidence in the CFS response to the Cherryville bushfire,” he said.

“The fire was extinguished with no loss of life or serious injury and minimal property damage.

“We should be thankful to CFS management and volunteers for their efforts, rather than question their performance as Family First and the Opposition have effectively done.”

However, Mr O’Brien said the State Bushfire Coordination Committee had formed a working party which would examine issues including the length of fire danger seasons, fire restrictions outside of the seasons and fire permit processes.

Opposition emergency spokeswoman Vickie Chapman said the Liberal Party would still push for a formal inquiry into the emergency response to the blaze.

“Police officers and other emergency services personnel worked hard during the fire and have continued that hard work afterwards to establish the cause of the fire,” Ms Chapman said.

“However, this should not be the end of the matter and we still believe a parliamentary inquiry should be held to look at the response to the fire and how we can better protect the community and property.

“We want to establish all of the facts surrounding this incident to improve bushfire management and it is in everyone’s interests that we do that.”

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