On 18th February 2016, the Sydney Morning Herald reported…

Blue Mountains bushfire caused by rotting tree falling on power lines, court hears

When perhaps it should have been…

Large Blue Mountains bushfire caused by massive fuel loads, court hears

Large fires like the Blue Mountains bushfire being referenced in this article are devastating to many people who have lost property and in some cases lives. This article has been written to help create some thoughts, discussions and actions that could help to prevent the severity of bushfires in the future.

My thoughts are with each and every person who has been impacted upon as a result of any bushfire.

As a society, we are pretty quick to find blame after the bush fire smoke has cleared but who should we blame and who can we sue to help us return to some type of normality?

Electrical service providers often find themselves in the firing line when the investigators find a point of origin that suggests the fire started with arcing wires, a fallen tree across powerlines or an electrical fault that started a fire.

Let us take a step back and think about the fuel, we all know that without fuel that electrical arc would not have created a fire. With lower fuel loads the fallen tree across powerlines that caused a fire may have been extinguished before it became so large.

  • Is it the power company’s fault?
  • Is it the land managers fault for not reducing the fuel near the powerlines?
  • Is it the councils fault for not allowing sufficient fuel reduction?
  • Is it the Green’s fault for influencing the publics perception of bushfire mitigation?
  • What about lightening strikes, should we sue God for fires that are started by lightening? or
  • Is it time that we had a good hard look at ourselves and our environment and we get back to sound land management practices that include fuel reduction (quality burns)?

Sydney Morning Herald

Click HERE or on the logo (above) to read the original news media article.

Blue Mountains bushfire caused by rotting tree falling on power lines, court hears

A bushfire that devastated the Blue Mountains hamlets of Winmalee and Springwood in October 2013 was ignited by a rotting wattle tree falling on to uninsulated power lines, the opening day of a class action has heard.

Residents and business owners are suing Endeavour Energy for damages in the NSW Supreme Court, claiming the energy distributor failed to prune or remove a hazardous tree next to a power pole on a property at Linksview Road, Springwood.

Fanned by wind gusts of up to 100km/h on a hot and dry day, the fire destroyed 194 homes and razed 3600 hectares of bush, but remarkably there was no loss of human life.

In his opening address on Wednesday, barrister for the plaintiffs, Tim Tobin, SC, said “the experience was life threatening and terrifying” for the residents, workers and school students caught up in the fast-moving inferno.

Mr Tobin said Endeavour Energy breached its duty of care to maintain appropriate clearance distance between power lines and vegetation.

He said the risks of fires igniting from contact between electricity network assets such as power lines and trees was well-known in the industry.

Mr Tobin said witnesses would describe seeing and hearing an “explosion causing sparks to fly in many directions” at about 1.30pm on October 17, 2013.

“This explosion of trees sent embers flying and looked like fireworks,” he said.

Marilyn Stubbs, a resident of Linksview Road, will tell the court she heard a “twang” and a “crackling” noise consistent with a tree striking a conductor.

Mr Tobin said the parties agreed the fire originated somewhere around Linksview Road, but the “precise point of origin” is in dispute.

“We say you’ll clearly find the fire was caused by a hazard tree falling on to power lines,” Mr Tobin said.

“This tree fell onto the power lines because it had extensive internal rot. That structural defect was detectable and if Endeavour had adopted reasonable practices, it would have been detected and the tree removed so that it could not fall into the conductors and cause the fire.”

Mr Tobin said the company spent about $100 million less on detecting and managing dead, dying, dangerous and visibly damaged trees in the years leading up to the fire than the amount approved by the energy regulator.

“Not only did they not spend [that money], their own internal budgets show they were budgeting for less than half that amount, and that [unspent] money became their profits.”

Mr Tobin said in the same period, other energy distributors were expanding their vegetation management programs.

Endeavour Energy is defending the claim and is represented by Dr Andrew Bell, SC. One of its grounds is that it doesn’t know where the fire, which burned until November 13, started.

Further, it says trimming the alleged offending tree would not have averted the fire.

The hearing, being held in Sydney before Justice Peter Garling, is being live-streamed to allow affected parties to watch from their homes in the Blue Mountains.

It is expected to last for 50 days.

Who is to blame?
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2 thoughts on “Who is to blame?

  • February 28, 2016 at 10:24 am

    I really hate these distractions about what ignited a fire. It doesn’t matter whether it’s arson or lack of maintenance or a lightning strike. The real culprits are land management authorities that allow fuels to build up: Councils, NPWS, Forestry, Tree Changers, Hobbyfarmers and householders. Puts me in mind of Billy Conolly. If it’s a lightning strike should we sue God?

  • March 19, 2016 at 8:00 am


    We’ve had another bushfire enquiry in the Blue Mountains littered with greenies since John Muir made a fleeting visit at the end of his wilderness world wide junket in 1903. Australia was in the grips of the fashion fur rabbit drought of Federation at this time losing that year 16 million sheep of the 36 million that starved (1898-1904) as the rabbits dug up the soil, buried the flammable scrub seed, made dysfunctional or killed the vegetation across southern Australia changing fire behaviour. Dingo and foxes were breeding on rabbits and killing off the wildlife at the time also. Dunphy among others were waiting in the Blue mountains to receive wilderness expert Muir from the USA where we in Australia were steaming up to adopt national park and wilderness, lock it up and throw away the key in the most arid and fire susceptible country in the world. Muir and his family migrated from Scotland to America for the 1848 gold rush so had a big background in fire, indigenous cultural history of both America and Australia. No acknowledgement of Indian fire or cultural ecoservices pre European times. The comedy of errors proceeded apace.

    Aboriginal people interfaced with the mega fauna giant marsupial fire fighters coevolving with a 26 million year history of climate change in Australia from temperate rainforest leached soils, inland lakes, big rivers to now the leached soils, wind blown sand dunes, erratic rainfall, drought and fire adapted if not fire ‘interdependent’ vegetation of today. Migratory herds of giant 3 tonne wombats travelled around unmanipulated by ‘fencing out’ by well meaning and ignorant greenies. The big animal fire fighters, gouged out, ripped down, trampled vegetation thinned prepared for cool biologically beneficial self limiting fire. Fire never suppressed by industrial gadgetry until the last few decades. How natural is the confiscated dehabited man made wilderness!

    26-45 million year history of adding charcoal to acid infertile soils, potash to restore fertility neutralise, add smoke to stimulate germination, drive plant community succession. Australia the top 12 in the world for biodiversity 27000+ plants, 10000 vertebrate animals, fungi, soil biota still unknown and incinerated each summer off “conservation land.” Aboriginal arrived with capacity for proactive fire from about 60000 years ago. As the big animal fire fighters died out for reasons yet to be established because the gang green are in charge of scientific research funding and find our Australian big animal ecohistory inconvenient and the less we know or talk about it the more gullible the urban migrant mostly European public are to mythinformation including climate change building megafires burning the expanding national park estate each summer with spectacular success in generating funding for policy failure for various empire builders.

    Blame lightening, blame unknown mythical motorbike riders, blame bored fire fighters or unsupervised children playing with matches, farmers with heavy machinery harvesters, blame poor maintenance on electricity networks asset stripped and privatised sold out to shareholders and investors killing off the field staff jobs replacing cross arms, grazing sheep around substations, slashing easements no longer grazed by travelling stock, the wallabies have gone to the dingo packs manipulated to guard the wilderness claims from farmers and foresters said exploiting the environment….. You have heard it all from “day care” kindergarten and bedtime reader, the TV, for decades. The clichés, chants, smokey bear readers indoctrinated for decades about over clearing, over grazing, over fishing, over here.

    Aboriginal people were declared over burning and blamed for killing out the big animals. Well how or why what the hell it happened about 6000-30000 years ago Aboriginal cool fire regimes compensated for the mega fauna fire fighter loss with minimal further mass extinction direct result of sophisticated cool fire regimes short circuiting the fire cycle mass extinction events until the dingo rabbit gang green scenario of today exterminating grazing animals of any origin, locking up the bonfire built by abuse of immobilised red trucks, aeroplanes, fire insurance companies, vested interest in plantation timber, smoke free tourism and airports, city water corporates government monopolies and so on. Institutions on the funding for policy failure gravy train. Urban centric detached society.

    Fire suppression vilification of indigenous fire has occurred as a side kick to the environmental academic driven movement of America and spread here. Sydney national park for the genteel pursuit of bird watching proclaimed in 1879 just a few years after Yosemite 1864 and Yellowstone 1872 Muir makes claim to and Abraham Lincoln and Yosemite cut out of the picture because Lincoln was assassinated as Muir draft dodger university drop out, fled to Canada to avoid the civil war to unite the states and end slavery. Muir remained antisocial for the rest of his life dying 1914 to avoid another war to fight to retain human rights and democratic processes retrieved from corrupt and insane elements of society pathologically selfish and greedy leading the gullible at the time growing out of Hitler Youth built on environmentalism, coincidently, ironically and something the people should not forget. Misguiding skills and loyalty.

    Getting back to the bonfire empire built today around power lines, around farms forests, towns and cities is capitalising on doing nothing and being highly paid to vacillate. Power and ego obstructing the general population to pick up a stick boil the billy put charcoal on their garden because the rich and famous got so by selling something to someone. Bullied out of self determination. Government and bureaucratic graduate clerks recruited to be gang green think up good reasons for not doing things and obstructing others for doing things because there is a quid in the consequences. Influential people getting into positions of power and over riding the will of the general silent majority of people.

    The recruited teacher going through university has been brainwashing recruiting children with gang green for decades. “Bushfire in Australia must be suppressed and eradicated.” As the scrub, piles of candle bark and toxic gum leaves build up around the houses, the schools, the cities and towns. Ever higher, portrayed ecologically friendly. Santa Clause is delivered in the red truck. Certainly there is going to be a red truck at our place if a fire ever comes. Henry Ford saved New York from being buried in horse manure 1898-1912. People die of air pollution, oil kills the fisheries motor vehicles kill run over people and roads bury biodiversity all is forgotten impacts. Grazing animals no longer have purpose or right to be. The petrochemical internationals have got us convinced as consumerists. Brumbies cannot continue in our public land as effective fire fighters, camels vilified by petrochemical benevolent environmental activists. Aeroplanes sent off to kill them as carbon off sets for the aeroplanes in a world looking for alternative energies and incinerating native lands because the grazing animals are lost.

    Gone is the drover grazing, trampling the roadsides power line corridors keeping it fire safe not necessarily fire free. The drover vilified and banished from the forests water sheds and travel routes for destroying biodiversity as the travel corridors are bulldozed, cemented and bitumen for petrochemical missile monopolies on travel. Ironically in the drovers day forests were alive the rain and snow still coming, natural snow for skiers, no need for waste water snow making. There was clean water for rivers lakes fisheries towns farmers city corporates now saving a zac on city water treatment for their shareholders at the cost of locking grazing animals away from the bush burnt as if by accident in man made bonfires. So how cheap is the water long term? Stock were our weeders converting tinder to wool meat milk export earning our cropping soils were building fertility and alive. Irrigators had reliable water supplies off live forests.

    There are no more ember blowing steam trains following the travel routes, the telephone lines and power lines. No fettlers burning off in the safe times so the stream trains did not start a fire in the long grass and scrub along train lines.

    There was a time when people knew what was fire safe and what was not. Fuel, climate, wind assessed at a glance. Skills passed on generation to generation, culture to culture. Second nature fire being one of humanities oldest tools 800000 to 1.2 million years, now bureaucrats have taken it away in about 2 decades. Created a generation of zombies, vegan microbrains, manipulated chanting slogans, berating their parents if they light a fire to cook a meal, keep warm in 3 metres of snow. Everyone has forgotten when there is a risk of uncontrollable fire. Parents don’t teach children, graduate clerks do.

    Children denied birthday candles in the nanny state. Every day families bury their children from boredom or substance abuse. People once would boil the billy not the catchment to purify their water if they had concerns about bushwalkers hygiene around creeks an rivers. Have a cuppa tea shared with fellow travellers. Pick up a few sticks bark bracken have a chop BBQ on a forky green gum stick. No international takerway corporates to asset strip Australia. Fire was safe. If the campfire meandered off and gobbled up a few rank tussocks or toxic gum leaves more the better.

    Everyone routinely fire prepared the bush, around their huts, houses, sheds, fences. Kids had cracker night collecting fuel. Outlawed to day $10M tax payers donation fire works in Sydney harbour bridge, see on TV or pay to watch live. In the old days campfire management provided a better attraction. Next time you pass through there would be green grass, wildflowers blooming, shrubs prim and in full flower fire safe bush for another 3-5 years in most cases wallaby birds attracted to entertain. Insects feasting on the enterprise, frogs lizards birds possum, fed by biochar. The stuff that now comes in a plastic bag from the retail outlet at a price. Packaged like cow poo, chook poo, etc. gardeners kill for, be it vegetables or native gardens pine bark mulch piled around their houses with flammable native shrubs stoked bonfire connected fuel waiting for the rotten wattle tree to fall on the power line because the government sold all the poles and peoples jobs for a quick thrill for a few high flying asset stripping shareholders, bourgeoning bureaucracies driving government debt harder. About 1% of Australia owning about 50% of the wealth because they are afflicted with pathological greed, lack any generosity or social conscience other than to paint themselves green for anyone gullible enough not to see the con in CONservation.

    The swinging governments got into government pork barrelling national public assets and we the people let it happen and pay and pay again. Pay for the burnt houses, pay for the unrealistic regulations preventing from rebuilding in a high fire risk area made so by regulations. Blue Mountains fire burnt down Federation homes. 100+ years old. What an achievement. Huts in the high country built 1850s, Grand mansions built in 1860s by convict labour in Western Australia. What an achievement in bonfire building fire suppression with layers of petrochemical and silicon gadgets invented 100-150 years in a fire history of the earth going back 410 million years.

    Henry Fords trucks, Hitlers 4WDs, Wright brothers aeroplanes, the computer age radios, satellites putting a garnish on the bonfire growing bigger each year, deeper, more of them and all the people saying it wont affect me because I have “fire insurance.” A very expensive glass skyscraper in the middle of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Canberra, Brisbane and so on. Slaving families own one or more windows in these insurance agency assets and investments never to be realised because the inmates like the view and proximity, commuter distance to where they live.

    In NSW alone the annual state product is in the order of $490B. Finance banking insurance rips $60B out of the economy. Loans and insurance on farms, houses, cars insurance against fire, flood….. After the inferno the sky scraper is still there as the contents struggle with all the claims drawing the peoples attention to the small print, the courts decisions. Royal Commissions soul searching pantomimes to nowhere but more budget sinks soothing the public anger until they give up on change. Penetration of the graduate clerk network. In the old days fire insurance used to be grazing, dingo control, cool fire, selective logging, selective clearing. All the stuff outlawed by the gang green. Media beat ups, vilification, discrimination, university research papers, bad advice to government.

    Insurance now compulsory, pays for the red trucks and aeroplanes. Once community pays the insurance they have lost control of when the trucks and aeroplanes are used, gone is the fuel management because it has become bureaucratic, academic and lucrative. In the 1950s war machinery became readily available for modern fire fighting. Trade in your horse and matches. We had fire trucks indicating when cool burning could occur. Bulldozed access roads necessary where once a bridle or wallaby track got you, horse and packhorse through just about anywhere accessible in cool burnt open fire prepared grazed green bush.

    Regs put in so the commercial tourists and airports could be smoke free vista. The red trucks had to get bigger and more of them as the fuel piled higher, the fires in summer drought became less frequent, larger area, hotter, the once open bush more over grown and made inaccessible. Every national park claimed around a state election can be found by smoke signals seen by satellite. Mass extinction events obliterating forests, towns, city suburbs, lifestyle blocks, migrant settlements trusting town planners and Shires to advise them of fire, flood risks. Nar good for business, subdivisions, building industry, replace infrastructure, solicitors courts legislators get a piece of the action. Stimulate the economy. Aeroplanes promised aerial control burns aerial fire fighting hollow promises in fact and in effect without ground fuel management. A barefooted child flicking matches or candle bark drip torches far more advanced in fact astute knowledge applied in a timely manner. Sympathetic to a known environment. Not a facsimile of maritime Europe.

    There is one common thread to all this. In the blame game fuel waiting for the eventual ignition event is not being taken seriously by Australians dumbed down on fire awareness by various vested interests opinionated people with neither experience or expertise to offer. Connected fuel, ground, understorey, canopy, forest to forest, grass to verges to scrub planted by 100 years of fashion fur rabbit plague Brisbane to Adelaide Perth to Darwin, dry grass 2 metres high, grain crops ready to harvest, roadside corridors abandoned wicks, black berry infestations up every mountain stream saved from impact by sheep and goats all terrain solar powered biological weed controllers, the vilified exterminated forester selectively logging consigned to the tourist brochure of the displaced timber and dairy town portrayed as our exploitive past not the ecoservices converting fire thick forests to the historic ornate timber pub, red gum furniture or the much sort after cool Queenslander everyone wants to buy. The red cedar train carriage.

    All turned into locked up wilderness to build more and bigger bonfires so even near neighbours no longer can safely cool burn. The aeroplane pilot spying on farmers spreading lime and reported smoke! The connected fuel builds and expands up and across. The wildflowers, wallaby consigned to the species obituary list from the obstruction of dingo control, cool burning, big animal grazing or selective logging, denied benefits of cost recovery conservation, essential ecoservices preventing starvation, predation or cremation.

    Plantation timber monocultures have become ‘green investment funds’ influencing and hounding native forest harvest to oblivion with regional cool burns manipulated by vested power brokers with commercial trees planted as high density pyronoid crops. A red wine with an ambitious political ‘could be’ seals the deal on manipulated monopolies on the timber and paper industry. Newspaper media brought to heel on content other than just a resort monopoly in a redundant timber town or national park compromising independence and freedom of speech. The building of more and more houses over farms, estuaries, fisheries, strip development among the gum trees, seaside, roadside and so on impossible to cool burn such as the challenge of Eucumbene Cove in the Snowy.

    If the smoke is not an inconvenience then the litigious affluent community going bush is not tolerant of any spark going beyond the computer model specifications bureaucratic mindset the she’ll be right mate and support of a neighbour in need has been an Australia that is being strangled by green string. Fire cool burning is part art and science is yet to catch up with where humanity has gone. Australia has 41 universities and 1.3M students unofficial unemployed to justify.

    The Arts Law professional in the court blaming electricity consumers ever after for the Blue Mountains fire is just another victim of the academic indoctrination going on over the last 50-100 years. Nice payout. The arsonists every time are less able to be sued being the obstructionists preventing people from strategic timely routine fuel management. Blaming ‘bone pointing’ is regressive and until we are all regulated back to living in dark dank caves and denied fire we have to retrieve the functional pieces of our evolution and reinstate indigenous fire, big animals or their replacements as Henry Fords spin on the world petrol puffing mechanical tree grabbers. If someone shot your horse get a rake and wipper snipper.

    Fuel, not ignition source is where the emphasis should be now and always. We had a Prime Minister once that was a fire fighter. I do not recall any judges being high profile fire fighters. There were a number recruited to the green lobby however and given a gang green letterhead influencing, legislation and litigation curiously. Conflict of interest for your mates? You decide!

    Noeline Franklin
    Burner Grazer Bushman.

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