Feeds

Oz Army red-faced after ready ... aim ... FIRE burns suburbs

Sir, that FOREST is a threat to NATIONAL SECURITY

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Australia's Army is combining tight lips with a red face, after it emerged that one of the large-scale bushfires that's hammering the surrounds of Sydney was sparked by live artillery fire.

The blaze has incidentally lit a political conflagration, with the new government working to deflect suggestions that changes in fire behaviour are driven by climate change.

Dubbed the “State Mine Fire”, the giant outbreak has burned an area of 48,000 hectares and has a circumference of more than 300 km, and is one of three ringing the Blue Mountains west of Sydney.

After a Rural Fire Service (RFS) investigation, it emerged that last Wednesday (October 16), the Army was conducting live-fire artillery practice at the Marrangaroo Army Range. The location hampered early attempts to bring the fire under control, since fire-fighters could not enter the range.

The following day, Thursday October 17, the weather helped the fires to take hold and spread at speed. The State Mine Fire ran more than 30 km, driven by high winds, to the east, while in the townships of Springwood and Winmalee, much closer to Sydney, 198 homes were destroyed by fire.

Bushfire map

North and North-West - the State Mine Fire, sparked by artillery

West - Mount York Road fire

South-East - Springwood / Winmalee "Links Road Fire"

The location of these three fires, along with high winds and extremely difficult terrain, meant that all towns to the east and south of the fires had been considered at risk at some time or other in the seven days since the blazes took hold. Only on October 23 and 24 did the RFS consider conditions stable enough to begin closing down its evacuation centres.

The Army announced that it would investigate the early local newspaper reports that it had bombed the bush alight. However, it has declined any further comment until that investigation is complete. RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons has, however, said that the Army has cooperated with the RFS's investigations.

None of the fires have been extinguished, but easing weather conditions mean the RFS is reasonably confident that backburning and containment lines constructed over the last week will control the blazes.

The fires have become a political hot-potato, with two government figures, the Prime Minister Tony Abbott and environment minister Greg Hunt, taking exception to any impression that changing and more severe fire-seasons might be associated with climate change.

The head of the UN's climate change negotiations, Christina Figueres, said that “the science is telling us that there are increasing heat waves in Asia, Europe, and Australia; that these will continue; that they will continue in their intensity and in their frequency”.

This was batted away by the prime minister as someone “talking through her hat”, while the environment minister told the BBC World Service he looked up Wikipedia for information about bushfires (full audio here). ®

Update: Just before this story went live, the two western fires, the State Mine Fire and the Mt York Road fire, returned to emergency level as winds pushed them northwards again.

In an unrelated incident, search and rescue teams are seeking the wreckage of a fixed wing water-bomber contracted to the RFS crashed west of Ulladulla, with NSW Police confirming the death of the pilot. ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Criticism of Uber's journo-Data Analytics plan is an Attack on DIGITAL FREEDOM
First they came for Emil – and I'm damn well SPEAKING OUT
'It is comforting to know where your data centres are.' UK.GOV does NOT
Plus: Anons are 'wannabes', KKK says, before being pwned
Google's whois results say it's a lousy smut searcher
Run whois google.com or whois microsoft.com. We dare you, you PIG◙◙◙◙ER
Holy vintage vehicles! Earliest known official Batmobile goes on sale
Riddle me this: are you prepared to pay US$180k?
'Open source just means big companies can steal your code.' O RLY?
Plus: Flame of the Week returns, for one night only!
NEWSFLASH: It's time to ditch dullard Facebook chums
Everything hot in tech, courtesy of avian anchor Regina Eggbert
Hey, you, PHONE-FACE! Kickstarter in-car mobe mount will EMBED your phone into your MUG
Stick it on the steering wheel and wait for the airbag to fire
prev story

Whitepapers

Go beyond APM with real-time IT operations analytics
How IT operations teams can harness the wealth of wire data already flowing through their environment for real-time operational intelligence.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Seattle children’s accelerates Citrix login times by 500% with cross-tier insight
Seattle Children’s is a leading research hospital with a large and growing Citrix XenDesktop deployment. See how they used ExtraHop to accelerate launch times.