In a stark reminder that the effects of bushfires often extend many years after the fire has been put out, 445 people who were affected by the 2013 Dunalley bushfires in Tasmania have launched a class action against those they allege were responsible for the fire.
The Dunalley fire destroyed 193 homes and 186 other properties, including the Dunalley school and police station. The cost of the fire is estimated to be more than $100m. A terrifying photograph of one family sheltering from the flames under a jetty was the subject of one of Guardian Australia’s first reports.
AAP reports that legal papers for the class action were lodged with the supreme court of Hobart, alleging that a man and a woman were negligent in lighting or failing to properly put out a campfire which later flared and burned through 25,000 hectares.
They claim that a campfire was lit in a tree stump at a property in Forcett, 20km north-east of Dunalley, on 12 December 2013. It is alleged dirt was kicked on to the stump and two half-buckets of water poured on the fire, with the belief it had been extinguished.
The woman on 1 January saw steam coming from stump after rain but did not take any steps to investigate, it is also claimed. Two days later, in hot, dry and windy weather and when the fire danger was very high to severe, the smouldering fire spread to grass and then into bushland.
The class action claims the man and woman ought to have known when they lit the campfire in December there was a risk of fire spreading over a wide area.
Koalas being saved in Kanangra-Boyd national park
A rescue operation is under way to protect a significant wild koala population in the Kanangra-Boyd national park in the Blue Mountains from the threat of bushfire and extreme heat.
The Kanangra-Boyd koalas are directly in the path of a 140,000-hectare bushfire. They’re also one of the most genetically diverse wild koala populations in the country and, crucially, one of only two chlamydia-free wild koala populations in NSW.
The organisation Science for Wildlife and the Taronga Wildlife hospital have rescued a small group – three adult males and five adult females, four of which have joeys – and taken them to the wildlife hospital until it is safe to release them to the wild.
It is one of five areas of significant koala population under threat from the Blue Mountains fires including the Gospers Mountain megafire, Science for Wildlife’s director, Dr Kellie Leigh, said.
We have found at least five areas that support significant numbers of koalas and three of those are currently being hit by bushfires.
I spoke to the NPWS who are dealing with these fires, and they gave us their full support to get some out.
The national park is closed to the public due to fire risk but they gave us a two-day window when it was safe to go in in front of the fire.
These koalas are hard to find and catch. We wish could have saved more but we’re glad we could rescue this group. A lot of good people helped at very short notice.
Koalas are a threatened species and are vulnerable to extinction in many parts of their range due to habitat loss, Leigh says.
Saving each and every koala population is vital to the species’ survival.
On that topic, Victoria is set to cop the heat tomorrow. Melbourne is forecast to reach 39C.
A heat health alert has also been issued for the north of the state. Bendigo is set to hit 42C, and Echuca, Swan Hill and Mildura will reach between 43C-45C.
Today it’s already 36.4C in Mildura, 34.4C in Shepparton, 33.5C in Albury, and 30.1C at Melbourne airport.
For eastern states the heatwave will be worse at the end of the week, posing a concern for athletes at the weekend. There’s an important discussion to be had here, reminiscent of the haze in Sydney that shrouded a Sheffield Shield cricket match last week.
At the time, New South Wales spinner Steve O’Keefe said the air was “not healthy” and “toxic”, and said Cricket Australia needed to look at its air quality policy.
It’s hot and getting hotter
In NSW, it’s 37.9C in Bourke and 35.8C in Mildura. It’s 30.5C in Canberra.
The latest Bureau of Meteorology observations: it is 39.5C in Adelaide’s city centre, and the forecast is for 40C.
It’s 42.1C in Port Augusta, and 44.5C in Ceduna.
Residents along Tableland and Cross roads are being told to prepare to leave with the Mount Maria bushfire at watch and act level.
The fire is burning in the vicinity of Cross, Hills, Wytallabah and Kirkpatrick roads but no properties are under threat. But Queensland fire and emergency warns the situation could change quickly.