Tag Archives: Lancefield fire

How “controlled” are controlled burns?

A Lancefield fire spread from a “controlled burn” that breached containment lines. The circumstances of one of the most destructive fires has prompted the Victorian state government to look for fresh answers in how to prevent future outbreaks. The Lancefield “controlled burn” turned into a bushfire which has destroyed five homes, 19 sheds, burnt almost 3000 hectares and generated fury among local residents.

Opponents regularly express concern over the impact of planned, or prescribed, burns on native forest and native animals. Some have questioned whether fuel reduction burns actually work!

The fire spread from a controlled burn-off that breached containment lines, while much of Victoria’s attention was on the AFL grand final on Saturday afternoon. Fire Chief Mr Goodwin could not say how many staff were rostered on that Friday or Saturday.

The CFA had hoped to bring the 4000-hectare fire under control by Thursday night but was racing to gain the upper hand before a northerly wind change and possible thunderstorms on Saturday.

(image: Burnt koala, Environment East Gippsland: The wildlife cost of DEPI burns – shocking imagery. )

A fire-bombing aircraft helped Edgar’s Mission, near Lancefield, a farm animal sanctuary that houses 250 rescued animals.

Alan Goodwin said the Cobaw forest burn-off’s escape was regrettable, but he denied emphatically the operation had been under-staffed and ignorant of pending heatwave conditions.

An external review, led by the director of Western Australia’s Office of Bushfire Risk Management Murray Carter, will examine whether enough staff were allocated throughout the burn.

The fire defied efforts to contain it, and fire-fighters were redeployed elsewhere even though hot and windy weather was predicted. The first scare for DELWP came when the fire jumped containment lines on Saturday. 20 DELWP and Parks Victoria fire-fighters were monitoring the fire on the Sunday and Monday.

The policy to burn 5% of Victoria’s vegetation each year, in order to reduce the risk of bushfires taking hold near properties and critical infrastructure, will be under greater scrutiny.

Chief Officer of the CFA, Euan Ferguson, said “history has shown us that a well-managed, well-resourced planned burning program can be successfully executed, (and) can make a difference”.

Victoria has a long history of catastrophic bushfires. These “controlled” burns are a disgrace and those who organise them should be charged with arson. They choose the wrong days when the weather is too dangerous for a burn and when the fires get out of control it’s the farmers, the home owners, the native birds and animals, and the national parks that suffer.



These “controlled” or “prescribed” burns are about using fire to squelch fire. This is about burning hectares of our bush, in Victoria, to clear it of vegetation, and wildlife are simply the collateral damage. In reality, it’s making our State more flammable by destroying what actually limits fires – the biodiversity, ecosystems, fungi, tree canopies that produce rain and maintain moisture, and wildlife such as kangaroos that eat the long grass! Torching small animals, such as possums and tree-dwelling koalas, is considered part of the price of keeping forests “safe” for houses, and properties.

Victoria is so cleared, and damaged, it’s like a tinder box, really to inflame more due to so-called “controlled burns” out of control.
A better way too would be to use leading-edge technology and communication to quickly spot fires and put them out! Controlled burning should be not based on hectares burnt, but by controlling where the risks to people are property are the greatest, and assessed by need.


Letter: The Age, 9 Oct, 2015

I am not aware of one instance in which a controlled or planned burn has subsequently stopped or slowed the progress of a bushfire.   From the present Lancefield disaster back to the fire  that devastated Wilsons Promontory, and further back, many controlled/planned burns have become out of control.  In addition,  the poor air quality in regional areas  caused by controlled or fuel-reduction burns   seriously affects the health of residents.   This ridiculous practice must cease.  The only basis for controlled burning is the desire of successive state governments to be seen to be doing something about bushfires.   Authorities need to focus on such things as the prevention of arson, the education of machinery operators, and the use of 21st-century technology to locate fires as soon as possible after they start, so that they may be extinguished quickly.  Where, during our bushfire season, are the large jet air tankers used in the  US? 

John Christiansen, St Kilda

PETITION: Immediate halt to planned burns – review fire management policies.

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Wildlife carers quitting after 30 years due to DELWP’s hostility towards kangaroos

Kangaroos nursed back to health after a planned fire escalated out of control now face a cull on the orders of the same department that ordered the burn. The very same department, DELWP, responsible for the care of wildlife, actually turned tail and permitted a “cull” of kangaroos, despite being tirelessly and lovingly nursed back to health by wildlife carers!

After a planned burn that started the Lancefield fire, they approved a six-month culling permit for the owner of a property that borders the shelter  – because of “damage caused by the kangaroos to the land”, where he runs sheep, and fences.  Surely more “damage” would be done by sheep than kangaroos?  However, the latter animals are economic assets, whereas kangaroos only have economic value when dead – for the pet meat trade!

The Authority to Control Wildlife permit application was approved, thanks to the farmer citing his desire to repasturise the land.  So, he can’t live harmoniously with native animals than have a minimal impact on grasslands?  This farmer got the go ahead to kill kangaroos on his property, which neighbours the Macedon Ranges (Victoria) Pastoria East Wildlife Shelter“All of the wild kangaroos here have been through that fire, they’ve all been impacted by it. They’ve lost habitat and food, they’ve been traumatised,” owner Christine Litchfield said.

Wildlife carers Ms Litchfield and Mr Ward say they are bemused by the department’s “heartbreaking” decision, considering DELWP formerly praised the work of the pair and wanted photos for an internal magazine!

“… Keep in mind we’re in a conservation zone, we are up against a large crown land forest. The idea that you’re going to kill kangaroos to stop this problem is unlikely to work completely,” Marcus Ward said.  What part of “conservation” do DELWP not understand?  What sort of Department, except an Orwellian one, would endorse the care and protection of wildlife – injured by their own “controlled burn” that got out of control – and also permit their “cull”?


Wildlife carers say they cannot continue to nurse injured kangaroos back to health only to risk having them shot by a neighbouring farmer once they are released.  These amazing people spend their own time and money on compassion and care for injured animals, only to have them lethally “managed”!  Marcus Ward, owner of the Pastoria East Wild Life Shelter, says he will have to close his doors after 30 years.

Under such a contradictory and twisted State government Department, presumably meant to be responsible for our wildlife, administer the Wildlife Act 1975, but at the same time approve of “culls” and the kangaroo meat industry in Victoria!  They can’t be the carers, conservationists and the killers at the same time – they are deeply embedded in conflicts of interests.

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) decided not to prosecute the neighbouring property owner for animal cruelty, after kangaroos were shot in the body and left to bleed to death.  So, what and when do they actually do to protect wildlife in Victoria?


“We can’t continue… knowing any animal that comes here is under risk,” Mr Ward said.

“That won’t change until we’re confident the culling won’t proceed.”  Without Macedon Ranges’ Pastoria East Wildlife Shelter, Mr Ward said rescuers had few local options for shelters to take kangaroos.

“The shelter in Kilmore is overloaded from the area, and the one in Hepburn that we rely on a lot closed their doors to any new animals last week,” he said.

Native animals, especially kangaroos, are enemies of Victoria, and land-holders – apparently.   The facade that DELWP have any care of responsibility for native animals is becoming thinner and they are being exposed as more interested in commercial kangaroo meat – and cleansing the State of our iconic native animals – in the name of “progress” and profits!


PETITION: Call of plan to “cull” kangaroos


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