Donation to CFA after fire failure

AN Upper Murray man’s failure to stop a fire on his property spreading to public land has sparked a call for property owners to be more responsible when burning off.

The Department of Environment and Primary Industries yesterday raised its concern following its prosecution of a Biggara man at Corryong Court last week.

Thomas Nicholas was charged with failing to prevent the spread of a private burn from his family farm into a neighbouring state forest and failing to report the existence of a fire to an authorised officer.

Magistrate William White granted a diversion order, which requires Nicholas to donate $800 to the CFA and outlay $290 to cover the department’s costs.

On April 14 last year, Nicholas ignited a fire on the border of his farm and Bunroy State Forest, which is located between Corryong and Mount Kosciuszko, and the DEPI was subsequently required to back burn to bring it back under control.

The department’s Hume region land and fire regional manager Shaun Lawlor said “private landholders need to ensure they have the appropriate permits and the ability to control the fire once they light it”.

“In this case, the man did not have any control lines or equipment to prevent the spread of the fire from farm to forest,” Mr Lawlor said.

“He failed to take any precautions.

“What makes this case even more disappointing is that the department actively encourages adjoining landholders and other stakeholders to participate in the fire operations plan process to nominate future planned burns.”

Mr Lawlor warned his department would be monitoring burn offs.

“This is the period where the bushfire weather has moderated but the possibility of bushfire remains and people are required to obtain a permit to conduct any burns and unfortunately some people don’t adhere to the requirements,” he said.

“They also need to adhere to the seasonal prohibited period (to 1 May 2014), which applies over private land within 1.5 kilometres of public land in the majority of the local government areas within the Hume Region.

“Under the Act, failure to observe all precautions to prevent the spread and damage by fire carries a maximum penalty of $14,436 or two years imprisonment or both.

“And failure to report the existence of a fire to an authorised officer carries a maximum penalty of $7218 and/or one year imprisonment.”

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