Australia: NSW adopts all 76 recommendations of bushfire inquiry report

An investigation into the recent bushfire disaster in Australia has found the country should expect “worse” in the years to come.

The inquiry looks into proposals at better preparing for future fire seasons.

Blazes in New South Wales began last August and burned for months, killing 33 people and destroying vast areas.

The NSW state government said it would adopt the inquiry’s 76 recommendations.

The “extreme and extremely unusual” bushfires destroyed 2,476 houses and 5.5 million hectares of land in that state alone, according to the NSW Bushfire Inquiry report.

“It showed us bushfires through forested regions on a scale that we have not seen in Australia in recorded history, and fire behaviour that took even experienced firefighters by surprise.”

The main causes were a drought which had made the land extremely dry and ready to burn, hot and windy weather, and climate change.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Tuesday: “The next fire season is already upon us.”

The report also noted an alarming rise in fire-generated storms – the most dangerous type of blaze. Of the 90 recorded since the early 1980s, a third took place in the past year.

Overall, most bushfires were caused by lightning strikes and embers from other blazes.

There were just 11 instances of people deliberately attempting to light bushfires, reinforcing that arson was wrongly overstated by some people as a significant cause of the crisis.

Some proposals recommended:

Ordering residents in at-risk areas to conduct compulsory land-clearing

Better aerial firefighting strategies, including more water-bombing at night

Drawing on more Aboriginal land management techniques, such as cultural burning

Allowing firefighters to enter private properties to start controlled burns on materials which fuel fires

Improving alert systems for bushfire smoke, and research into its health impacts