I have been reading Crikey‘s stories on control burns with a lot of interest.

On Sunday the 1st of March I went to State forest near Muchison Road in the Flowerdale area in Victoria. This forest area was incinerated by the Kilmore fire on the 7th of February. I took photos of a 30 hectare area that was controlled burned on 10th of April 2008.

This recent fuel reduction burn made no difference what so ever. In fact all the control burns that were done in 2008 and then run over by the 7th of February 2009 fire will show the same thing, but I have not been able to get to the other areas as access is still restricted.

The stories published in The Australian by David Packham and others are going to be shown as nothing more than a nasty public relations campaign in the medium to long term. I recently had an opinion piece published in the Geelong Advertiser that dealt with the rubbish being said about the Otways fire suppression strategies.

The logic for the Otways applies to the areas burnt in the 7 February fires.

I have attached a map of where the control burn was conducted on 10 April 2008. (click to enlarge)

The photos below show the coppice that grew back after the April 2008 control burn. The 7 February fire still raced though this area. Houses were destroyed nearby.

The below photo shows a track that was the boundary between the area that was fuel reduction burnt (left) and an area that was not fuel control burnt (right). You can see the coppice on the trees to the left. (click to enlarge)

Fuel reduction burns do have their place but on “Black Saturday” they made no difference to the outcome. To state that conservation minded people somehow contributed to the fires on Saturday the 7th of February is outrageous given the facts that are going to be exposed now the smoke is clearing.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey