Military exercise lit Australian wildfires
SYDNEY — Fire officials defended Australia's defense department on Thursday as investigators revealed a military training exercise ignited the largest of the wildfires that have torn across the nation's most populous state over the past week.
The Rural Fire Service said Wednesday that one of the more than 100 fires that have burned since last week began at a Defense Department training area as a result of “live ordnance exercises.”
The fire it sparked near the city of Lithgow, west of Sydney, has burned 180 square miles and destroyed several houses, but no injuries or deaths were reported in the blaze.
In a statement, Acting Defense Minister George Brandis said the military was cooperating with investigators.
Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said the defense department's actions were obviously an accident.
“It wasn't deliberate; it was a side effect of a routine activity, it would appear, and clearly there was no intention to see fire start up and run as a result of that activity,” Fitzsimmons said. “There is no conspiracy here.”
The fires have killed one man and destroyed more than 200 homes in New South Wales state over the past week. Sixty-five fires were still burning Thursday, with 24 out of control, though all emergency warnings had been lifted.
Meanwhile, officials said an aircraft helping fight a fire near Ulladulla, south of Sydney, crashed on Thursday morning. The fire service said it had no details, including whether anyone was injured, and that rescue crews were headed to the scene.
The major wildfire threat had passed on Thursday, as cooler temperatures and calm winds prevailed and hundreds of residents returned to homes they had evacuated earlier.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Egypt, sans parliament for more than 3 years, sets elections
- Fire at Saudi oil company residence kills 11
- Malaysia Prime Minister Najib scorns thousands demanding his resignation
- Migrant crisis forces European Union leaders to set summit
- Migrant surge: Europe ill-prepared for invasion of foreigners
- Al-Jazeera English journalists head to prison in Egypt
- Suspect in 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia arrested
- 200 feared dead in latest migrant disaster off Libya’s coast
- Vatican priest accused of child sex abuse found dead
- Beirut protests grow as summer garbage crisis lingers
- Barak: Israel nearly attacked Iranian nuclear facilities