A report in The Flinders News has been mentioned in State Parliament by an MP concerned about the Wirrabara bushfire.
Member for Stuart Dan Van Holst Pellekaan raised questions about a supervised burn-off at Wirrabara Forest that got out of control and turned into the bushfire.
He spoke of the newspaper report “Crews pleaded for burn-off delay”.
“The article says crews given the task of conducting a burn-off in the Wirrabara Forest pleaded with their superiors to cancel the operation, fire-fighting sources say,” he said.
“The crews told Forestry SA that it was too dangerous to go ahead because of the weather conditions, but the operation continued.
“That is an incredibly alarming report and based on information coming to me from local constituents it is an accurate report.
“It should be incredibly alarming for everybody in the House of Assembly.
“The real concern, apart from the fact that it got out of control, is that people’s lives came close to being put at risk.
“A prescribed burn is when the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, or another qualified government department, deliberately burns off some land so that it might help with fire prevention down the track if another accidental bushfire takes place.
“The very unfortunate situation here is that a prescribed burn that was intended to burn off 35 hectares of land in the Wirrabara Forest actually burnt 800 hectares and it burnt 800 hectares because the prescribed burn got out of control.
“What we had was an out-of-control bushfire started by a government department—a very alarming situation.”
Mr Pellekaan then questioned how something like this happened.
“Let me make it very clear that I am not here to try to get any individuals in any sort of strife. I want to focus on the system,” he said.
“I want the system to be fixed so that this never happens again.”
Mr Pellekaan believes the burn took place on the wrong day.
“For Saturday and Sunday the weather conditions were forecast to be quite favourable, yet, for the Monday and the Tuesday – and the burn was done on the Monday – the weather conditions were for the high temperatures to be in the high 20s with high winds,” he said.
“This prescribed burn was planned for a day when weather conditions were inappropriate. There is no getting around that fact.”
He also requested a copy of the internal review from the minister of Environment and Natural Resources.
“I want the minister’s department to conduct a thorough and open review of what happened. The review must include direct and clear directions for improved practice in the future so that this never happens again,” he said.
Comment is being sought from the Environment and Natural Resources Department.