Morons with matches

Once again summer has arrived, and once again assorted gurus pop out of the…errr… woodwork to warn us about the danger of bushfires, and all the things we can do to protect ourselves and reduce fire hazards: make sure the pump works, clean out the gutters, shift the firewood off the front porch, give the kids a short haircut, and so on.

Unfortunately, they never seem to warn us about the biggest fire hazard of all: the moron with the match. It’s been well documented that fewer than 20% of wildfires are started by ‘Acts Of God’ (and, no, that doesn’t include the DSE’s activities, much as they’d like you to think so!). Most of our uncontrolled conflagrations – some of which become extremely serious – are ignited by those bugs you can sometimes see scurrying around the scrub with a box of matches or a drip-torch, known as Homo pyromanus ssp.frenzius.

Gippsland authorities had to fight 120 fires during this spring. They were ALL started by people, not God, and many of them ‘local experts’. One fire in early October took out 4,500 ha including the entire Lind National Park near Cabbage Tree. A deliberately lit bushfire burned more than 600 hectares and threatened the town of Willow Grove. At Longford, CFA brigades narrowly saved a farmhouse from another bushfire started by a burn-off.

If you do discover any of these ‘experts’ doing their bit for the bush (particularly on or near crown land), please contact the Responsible Authority forthwith. They want to collect evidence to support prosecutions. To date, only ONE person has a prosecution pending. The reason there aren’t more, is due to a lack of evidence. If more fire-bugs were arrested and charged for arson, others might lose the urge to set the country side afire and we and the bush would be safer.

Alan Fox

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