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I live in Canberra, and the bureaucratic response to the fires has been a joke. I remember looking at the hills to Canberra's south in late 2001 and wondered what would happen if they ever had a bushfire. But I assumed the govt would have considered the same thing and didn't do any backburning because there wasn't any real risk.

As it turned out, the government is full of idiots. But that's what you have to expect when the whole city is run by environmental crusaders and neighbourhood groups led by whingeing ex-teachers.

The National Parks Service back in the U.S. uses fire for risk-reduction, setting controlled burns to keep naturally-occuring fires from happening or getting out of control. They also now monitor naturally occuring fires and allow them to run their course if there's no risk of environmental damage or public safety danger. This appears to work, as far as it goes, but many areas still experience wildfires of intensity comparable to that of the ACT fires. Arsonists seem to be a signficant part of this problem, both here and in the U.S., but it seems like more so here. Who are these people and what drives them? It isn't just kids, and even then, there's a malicious character too often that I just don't understand. I would be very interested in learning more about bush arson.

When I was a kid-now we're going way back-there were never any 'superfires'. Whilst there were always summer bushfires, these were controllable and invariably extinguished in a few days.

In those days, there was always cool fire burns (hazard reduction) conducted during the off-season which eliminated the possibility of summer 'superfires'.

What hasn't changed is the presence of arsonists. These days however, their damage is magnified by so much accumulated fuel load. A veritable target-rich enviroment. Tragically, this now labels forests as weapons of mass destruction.

Sure Adrian... let's see you find those weapons of mass destruction. Those forests don't exist. They never did. Yeah, sure, they moved them to Syria. Uh huh. How do you move 2 million square kilometres of forest without Hans Blix seeing it? Now you're saying the forest needed to be invaded to bring democracy to the kangaroos. WHERE ARE THE TREES???

(Sorry - the whole Iraq election thing has me unusually cheery, peppy, and full of right-wing death beastery at the moment...)

SG, at the risk of dampening your enthusiasm over the Iraqi elections it worth bearing in mind the joint is a work in progress. Whilst encouraging, Rome wasn't built....

this phenomena was discoverd 50 years age when we bombed Hamburg, and its called a firestorm. Why do these people never read any history....there 50 years too late to give it a name

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